Trucking Execs Warn of ‘Supply Chain Disaster’ Due to New U.S. Cross-Border Vax Mandate
Washington D.C. – Cross-border truckers will not be exempted from a “new travel system” being rolled out by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and that has some Canadian trucking executives concerned.
This week, DHS unveiled a plan to ease cross-border travel restrictions in a two-phased approach, but only for the fully vaccinated.
As part of the first phase, set to begin in November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will allow fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the U.S. at land and ferry ports of entry (POEs) for non-essential reasons.
In a release, DHS said all travelers will be “required to have appropriate paperwork that provides proof of vaccination and individuals who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel for non-essential purposes.”
The second phase will begin in “early January” of 2022, and will require that all inbound foreign national travelers — including truckers — crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination.
“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy,” DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said. “We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner.”
According to DHS, the two-phased approach will provide “ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.”
Canadian carriers with cross-border operations are already bracing for the impact.
“It’s going to be a disaster,” Wendell Erb, president and CEO of the Erb Group, a cross-border fleet headquartered in New Hamburg, Ont., told Canadian trucking news outlet TruckNews.com. “Unfortunately, the percentage of people who are unvaccinated have no intention of getting vaccinated. I’m already short of drivers to handle the freight I’m going to have.”
Doug Sutherland, president of Sutco Transportation, headquartered in Salmo, B.C., echoed Erb’s concerns.
“At the end of the day, I severely worry about the supply chain,” he told the news outlet. “If we don’t have another solution, [such as] testing on a weekly basis, we’re going to see something detrimental to the supply chain.”
Major U.S. trucking groups are also warning of “dire consequences” to the supply chain if President Biden moves forward on his plan to mandate that private companies with 100 employees or more require workers to be vaccinated.
However, despite these warnings and the already worsening supply chain crisis, the President seems to be moving full speed ahead as an “emergency rule” is currently under review by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
The rule is expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks.