FMCSA Cites ‘Lagging Vaccination Rates’ in Extension of 50-State COVID-Relief Waiver
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is extending and expanding its historic 50-state hours of service (HOS) exemption for motor carriers directly engaged in COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts.
In a newly issued extension and expansion of its modified Emergency Declaration, the Agency said the unprecedented waiver (which was set to expire on August 31, 2021) will now run through November 31, 2021.
The Agency explained its decision saying, “Although the number of COVID-19 cases began to decline in the U.S. following widespread introduction of vaccinations, the delta variant and lagging vaccination rates reversed that downward trajectory and have resulted in a rapid rise in infections and hospitalizations around the country.”
Further, the FMCSA argued “a continued exemption is needed to support direct emergency assistance for some supply chains.”
The updated waiver provides regulatory relief for motor carriers providing “direct assistance” in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of:
(1) livestock and livestock feed;
(2) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
(3) vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19;
(4) 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;
(5) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores;
(6) gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, and ethyl alcohol; and
(7) supplies to assist individuals impacted by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., building materials for individuals displaced or otherwise impacted as a result of the emergency).
Notably, transportation of fuel had been removed from previous waivers, but has now been added back.