Truck drivers work to manage COVID-19 risk while moving goods to and from the U.S.

Most Canadians support the continued closure of the Canada/U.S. border to everything but the most essential travel, according to a recent IPSOS survey.

But even that essential movement, such as that for trade, may be under threat as those moving across the border weigh the risks of entering the U.S. during a major ramp up of COVID-19 infection rates.

Canada and the U.S. have an integrated value and logistics chain for several commodities. Planes, trains, and trucks move constantly across the border moving goods. This creates a significant challenge for truck drivers going to and from the country.

Trucking companies are hearing varied responses from their drivers. Some drivers feel comfortable with risk management in place to limit exposure to the virus while traveling, while others feel safest staying in Canada.

Companies have instituted new safety measures to protect drivers and loading dock staff including:

  • Access to PPE, such as masks, sanitizer, and gloves;
  • Estabilshing fuelling protocols, including wearing gloves at the fuel island, sanitizing nozzles, the Cardlock card, the pin pad, etc.;
  • Encouraging that all wear masks while utilizing facilities, such as truck stops and rest areas;
  • Limiting the use of shared or public facilities whenever possible. Drivers are encouraged to pack food and water and minimize exposure to people; and,
  • To limit attending any areas with crowds or groups of people.

Truckers are also encouraged to be on the lookout for protocols at shipping and receiving facilities, and to follow their guidelines as instructed as a minimum. Truck drivers are being told to wear a mask, even if not required at these locations. Not all businesses or areas in the U.S. have as stringent protocols as Canada.

There are some real challenges in adhering to physical distancing and quarantine protocols, even with safeguards in place, some are reporting. Finding suitable rest areas, bathrooms and showers has proven challenging, and even though truck drivers are exempt from the 14-day isolation period required after crossing the border, some businesses have signage insisting anyone who has traveled to the U.S. not to enter. The same applies to dentist and doctor visits, as well.

On the positive side, truckers have reported safer driving conditions as traffic volumes have eased.

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