March 14, 2020 / 3:18 AM / in 23 days

UPDATE 1-U.S. agency issues emergency order to speed coronavirus relief deliveries

(Adds more details on order, history, quote)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said late Friday it was issuing a national emergency order to waive hours-of-service requirements for commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency coronavirus relief.

The agency of the U.S. Transportation Department said the order covers deliveries including medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, food for emergency restocking of stores, and supplies and equipment like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants.

It marks the first time the agency has issued a nationwide order and requires that after deliveries are complete, drivers must receive the required time off.

The orders have been routinely issued previously to address natural disasters or other regional emergencies like wildfires, hurricanes or winter storms, but not covering the entire United States, the department said.

It also covers deliveries of equipment, supplies and persons necessary for establishment and management of temporary housing and quarantine facilities and transport of people designated by authorities for transport for medical, isolation or quarantine purposes and personnel to provide medical or emergency services.

“This declaration will help America’s commercial drivers get these critical goods to impacted areas faster and more efficiently,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen in a statement.

The order is set to expire April 12. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Pullin and Michael Perry)

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