Trade groups for truckers and parcel couriers are urging authorities to loosen coronavirus lockdown standards on their industries, so their members can continue to make deliveries and drive supply chain continuity during widespread store and business closures instituted to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Truckstop workers and commercial truck drivers are included on the list of “essential critical infrastructure workers” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) in its “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.”
But while those workers are required to continue operating despite broad travel bans and work from home orders in other business sectors, commercial drivers often face severe delays when they stop at travel centers for food or fuel, according to the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO).
The delays are caused when local officials enforce strict "occupancy limits" in travel centers, exceeding the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)’s recommended social distancing guidelines and creating long lines to enter those facilities, NATSO said in a combined statement with the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
“Varying interpretations of the CDC guidelines are creating exceedingly long wait times for truck drivers to buy food, use the facilities, and get back on the road, hindering their ability to deliver medical supplies or keep grocery store shelves stocked,” NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings said in a release. “What should be 20 minute stops are turning into more than two hour layovers. It is imperative that local enforcement officials enforce occupancy caps in truckstops in a manner that adheres to CDC social distancing guidelines without unnecessarily disrupting the efficient movement of essential supplies throughout the country.”
In a related industry, the trade group for couriers is urging its members to petition their local governors in a bid to join truckers as being declared “essential service providers.”
Because of the pleas of couriers in Florida and Washington, state governors of those states have already declared their work as essential services according to the Customized Logistics and Delivery Association (CLDA), which represents time-critical logistics, delivery, and express air cargo logistics industries. CLDA members in Minnesota, New York, and California have already contacted their governors and expect to get that designation within the next few days.
“Members of this industry must contact their governors immediately to get this declaration before they issue Emergency Orders to shelter in place,” CLDA President Steve Howard said in a release. “If they wait, it might be too late and the services we provide to keep the supply chain moving could take days or even weeks to start up again. Once governors issue Emergency Orders to shelter in place, they will be shut down and the supply chain will grind to a halt.”
According to the CLDA, couriers are crucial last-mile delivery providers who enable the rest of the population to work from home by fulfilling their needs for office supplies and other professional equipment. Couriers are also aiding in Covid-19 reduction measures by delivering:
To see further coverage of the coronavirus crisis and how it's affecting logistics issues across the industry, check out:
• our dedicated landing page for the latest journalism by DC Velocity’s team of editors, and
• our compilation of virus-focused websites and resource pages from around the supply chain sector.
NATSO continues to expand its available resources for truckstops as they grapple w/ questions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. NATSO's newest resource includes a series of FAQs focused on state/local ordinances, keeping your businesses running & employee issues https://t.co/UYD0JWz7Cr pic.twitter.com/fryAMMV9e1— NATSO, Inc. (@NATSO_Inc) April 1, 2020