FMCSA Expands Emergency COVID-19 Relief Efforts Declaration

Updated May 14, 2020: The declaration has been extended and will remain in effect until 11:59 P.M. (ET), June 14, 2020, or until the revocation of the presidentially declared COVID-19 national emergency, whichever is sooner.

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On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an Expanded Emergency Declaration broadening federal exemptions from compliance with certain driver safety regulations for interstate commerce, including the federal Hours of Service regulations. The FMCSA made two key changes to its prior Emergency Declaration issued on March 13: (a) expanded the definition of what products and services are covered by the Declaration; and (b) relaxed the definition of what constitutes a “mixed” load. 

Additional Products and Services

The Expanded Emergency Declaration now provides an exemption for the following products and services (additions/changes in bold):

  1. Medical Supplies: Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  1. Community Safety Supplies: 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;
  1. Groceries, Paper Products or Emergency Restocking: Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores;
  1. Immediate Precursor Raw Materials: immediate precursor raw materials—such as paper, plastic or alcohol—that are required for the manufacture of items in categories (1), (2) or (3);
  1. Fuel;
  1. Temporary Housing: Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;
  1. Designated Persons: Persons designated by federal, state or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and
  1. Necessary Persons: Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

Relaxed Definition of “Mixed Loads”

The FMCSA also relaxed its exclusion of “mixed loads” from Emergency Declaration coverage. The Expanded Emergency Declaration now excludes only those routine commercial deliveries of mixed loads that have a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief that appear to have been added simply to obtain the benefits of the emergency relief from the federal regulations. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.