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By: Josh Ferguson
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a national emergency declaration and in doing so provided a limited exemption from driver safety regulatory requirements. The exemption applies “for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons” that provide “direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks.” The Emergency Declaration was effective March 13, 2020 and remain in effect until the end of the emergency or until 11:59 p.m. (ET) on April 12, 2020, whichever comes sooner.
The declaration defines “Direct assistance” as transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services, such as medical care, or essential supplies such as food, related to COVID-19 outbreaks during the emergency. These include transportation of the following:
Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries or transportation of mixed loads that include essential supplies, equipment and persons, along with supplies, equipment and persons that are not being transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks. Another important aspect is the exemption terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used to transport cargo or provide services not identified on the list.
Many states have issued public emergencies, and ultimately those emergency powers may include other exemptions for operators of commercial vehicles. For example, in Georgia, in declaring a public health emergency Governor Kemp stated that the declaration would immediately be used to help some nurses from other states get temporary licenses to practice in Georgia and lift restrictions on commercial truck drivers to let them continue stocking stores with supplies. Just how these emergency declarations and exemptions factor into tort and employment-related claims will be seen months and years down the road.
The FMG Coronavirus Task Team will be conducting a series of webinars on Coronavirus issues every day for the next week. We will discuss the impact of Coronavirus for companies in general, but also for business in insurance, healthcare, California specific issues, cybersecurity, and tort. Click here to register.
FMG has formed a Coronavirus Task Force to provide up-to-the-minute information, strategic advice, and practical solutions for our clients. Our group is an interdisciplinary team of attorneys who can address the multitude of legal issues arising out of the Coronavirus pandemic, including issues related to Healthcare, Product Liability, Tort Liability, Data Privacy, and Cyber and Local Governments. For more information about the Task Force, click here.
You can also contact your FMG relationship partner or email the team with any questions at [email protected].