NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBS Local) — Truckers working overtime to keep supply chains moving to meet surging consumer demands during the COVID-19 pandemic are finding it more difficult to navigate a growing list of challenges.
First off, there are now fewer options for truckers to find food and rest when they need a break.
Truck-stop restaurants in some states have shut dining rooms and switched to drive-thru, takeout and delivery options, to comply with health orders aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.
“Some of the truck stops are telling us that they are making sure that they’re keeping the lounges, limiting the numbers of drivers that are in the lounges and making sure that they’re closing the lounges if they need to,” Donna England, VP of Safety and Member Services at Tennessee Trucking Association.
The trucking industry could be key to keeping the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://t.co/dBftoq2FYM
— WREG News Channel 3 (@3onyourside) March 18, 2020
“They’re also closing all the buffet-style food that’s being served,” she told WKRN.
Gas stations and grocery stores are convenient, but most shelves are empty and some rest stops are closed.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania closed 48 Interstate highway rest areas and facilities, cutting back significant parking space along key logistics corridors.
But after truckers complained to President Trump, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation agreed to reopen 13 rest areas by Thursday for truck parking and portable toilets that would be cleaned once a day.
Potential travel restrictions and controls at loading docks slow operations for freight haulers seeking to keep supply chains running to meet surging coronavirus-driven demand for consumer staples and medical equipment https://t.co/vuqUR5Fbru
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) March 19, 2020
Once they reach their destinations, drivers face new restrictions, especially if they’ve been in states considered coronavirus hot zones, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“Some of the shippers and receivers are asking drivers to sign affidavits that they are not sick,” said Linda Allen, owner of Hardcore Trucking, a trucking company based in Spring Hill, Florida.
“They are not allowed to use the restroom, not allowed to use the building,” Allen said. “They don’t want drivers in the facilities.”
Despite the hardships, truckers are trying to stay optimistic.
“I do feel like that over time you’ll see that after the initial scare, things will get back to normal,” Donna England said. “It’s just a matter of time, you know it’s gonna take a few days to get that back on track.”