Truckers Fret Over Pending Covid-19 Vaccine Rules at U.S.-Canada Border

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On Saturday, Canada will require U.S. and other foreign truck drivers to be fully vaccinated to enter, with similar U.S. rules due Jan. 22. Truckers expect new snores and more difficulties in finding drivers

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Canada’s rules will go into effect on Saturday, when Canada will ban US and other foreign truck drivers from entering the country until they have been fully vaccinated. Canada will require unvaccinated Canadian drivers to show a negative, molecular COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to arrival at the border before allowing entry. Those drivers will also have to be quarantined for a period of 14 days, which industry groups say will hurt an already under-employed fleet.

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The US has said that Canadian truck drivers without two shots of an authorized COVID-19 vaccine will be denied entry from January 22. In the absence of a bilateral solution, trucking and manufacturing trade groups warn of supply-chain turmoil that could lead to further price increases and potential shortages of critical goods such as food.

According to US trade data, the two-way trade in merchandise merchandise between the US and Canada totaled more than $600 billion in 2019. Canada’s exporting and trucking sectors estimate that about 80% of them run on freight trucks.

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In a separate development, the US Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s Covid-19 vaccine-or-testing rules for large private employers, which US trucking officials and some industry groups have said are disrupting the domestic supply chain. Can deepen the turmoil. The decision does not affect the upcoming border restrictions.

“It’s a relief,” said US Express Enterprises Inc., a large trucking carrier based in Chattanooga, Tenn. CEO Eric Fuller said. For many companies. ,

The American Trucking Association, an industry group, is urging leaders in Ottawa and Washington to reconsider cross-border mandates “so that we can avoid any further economic disruption,” said the group’s chief economist and senior vice president of international trade policy. Bob Costello said. and cross-border operations.

Professional drivers spend most of their time alone and have lower infection and absenteeism rates than the general public, Costello said. “We believe these mandates will only serve to drive drivers out of the industry or off these routes, further straining the supply chain between the US and our largest trading partner.”

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile in Canada, the government issued a statement late Thursday, reiterating that the trucker-focused vaccine mandate remains in place. A statement said that information previously provided to Reuters and The Canadian Press news agency, indicating that Ottawa was reversing some of the rules partly as they applied to Canadian truckers, “was provided in error Was.” Late Wednesday, two news agencies reported that Canada was reversing some of the proposed rules.

The statement, jointly written by the Ministers of Health, Public Safety and Transport, said the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will prioritize the health and safety of Canadians. The statement also said that the limit measures may be removed or adjusted depending on the number of Covid-19 cases and hospitalization rates.

Lance Dixon, senior vice president for the Mexico, Canada and temperature controlled divisions of Omaha, Neb.-based Werner Enterprises Inc., said the truckload carrier “anticipates an increase in delays at the border as a result of freight bottlenecks as agents verify drivers’ vaccine status.” , the officers educate those who are not prepared, and the drivers get accustomed to this new process.”

More than 80% of the company’s cross-border fleet has been vaccinated and partner carriers are fully vaccinated, Mr Dixon said.

Stephen Lascosi, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said a survey of Canadian truckers suggested that “at least” 10% of 120,000 truck drivers in the country had not been vaccinated. “We already have small truck drivers in Canada,” he said, citing statistics from Statistics Canada that said there were 23,000 job vacancies in the sector.

Difficulties in hiring and retaining truck drivers on both sides of the border have contributed to supply-chain disruptions, which have impacted economic activity in North America and globally. “If you introduce this vaccine mandate, that part of the problem becomes bigger,” Laskowski said.

Dennis Darby, president of a lobby group Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, in a January 11 letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, warned against enforcing vaccine mandates at the border for Canadian and US truck drivers.

“Without adequate trucking services, manufacturers will be unable to maintain their current supply chain and production will stop or slow down across the country,” he said.

Write Paul Vieira at [email protected] and Jennifer Smith at [email protected]

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