Regulatory measures have been taken in order to facilitate the safe and rapid transport of the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine. FMCSA is expanding its emergency hours-of-service (HOS) waiver to include carriers transporting vaccines.
On Dec. 1 ( Tuesday) , FMCSA announced in a notice that it is modifying the most recent extension of the HOS waiver. It has been set to expire on Dec.31. Instead, it will expire on Feb. 28.2021, unless the COVID-19 national emergency is revoked sooner.
“This expansion and extension of the modified Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, and provides necessary relief from the [regulations] for motor carriers and drivers,” today’s notice states.
The exemption applies to drivers providing direct emergency assistance. The initial emergency declaration was issued March 13 and has been extended multiple times since. As a part of the COVID-19 vaccine preparations , DOT has established the appropriate safety requirements for all potential hazards involved in shipping the vaccine. Including standards for dry ice and lithium batteries. As well as steps to make sure air and land logistics supply networks are able to operate efficiently.
As with all previous HOS waivers in response to the pandemic, direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries. including mixed loads “with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration,” FMCSA stated.
The renewed declaration has been expanded to now include the transportation of:
- Livestock and livestock feed;
- Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
- Carriers transporting vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;
- Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and
- Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.