The updated waiver enables commercial drivers transporting “food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores” to be eligible for hours of service relief. The current emergency declaration was set to expire on Friday, Aug. 14, but the extension provides regulatory relief until Sept. 14.
Since March of this year, FMCSA has provided hours-of-service flexibility for commercial drivers transporting certain categories of eligible items to help alleviate critical supply-chain pressures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the agency’s June waiver extension, which excluded food and grocery, NGA and its member wholesalers wrote a letter to FCMSA last month explaining how ongoing grocery supply-chain issues are deserving of regulatory relief. NGA and its member wholesalers also took part in a call with the agency last week to describe many of the continuing supply-chain problems and request further waiver flexibility.
“NGA has advocated on behalf of our retail and wholesale members to make sure that FMCSA understands that some obstacles remain due to COVID-19 impacts on the grocery supply chain,” noted Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of Arlington, Virginia-based NGA. “Independents across the country are working night and day to keep their stores restocked, and we appreciate FMCSA heeding our concerns and providing some relief.”
“Independent grocery wholesalers are the backbone of our supply chain, and their truckers are doing yeoman’s work making sure food is delivered to retail stores,” said Robert Yeakel, NGA’s director of government relations. “We thank FMCSA for responding to the issues that we’ve raised and providing our wholesalers and independent grocers everywhere with more flexibility to get food onto store shelves.”