“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 3/20/20
COVID-19 threatens supply chain
According to Barry “Spook” Stang, the executive director of Motor Carriers of Montana—an industry group representing over 300 Treasure State trucking interests—there’s been a shift in the rules of the road for long-haul truckers; the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the highest-ranking oversight body for the entire trucking industry, has recently raised hourly driving restrictions in to help allow the supply chain meet growing demands of consumers frenzied by COVID-19 fears. “This is the first time in my 20 years here that I’ve seen a nationwide relaxation of these rules to try to get food on the shelves,” Stang told Montana Public Radio. While this may raise concern for some, it’s for good reason: “If something happens to the trucking industry it doesn’t take long for your grocery stores to have empty shelves,” Stang said. The industry forms a silent but critical piece of infrastructure that’s only now on the collective conscious. According to MTPR, supply chains are currently uninterrupted and food supplies are in good order, but already industry groups are joining voices to call for truck stops to remain open, despite the fact that other restaurants and eateries nationwide are closing—the designated places for truckers to find food and rest may prove vital in keeping people fed. Many of those truck stops are now serving their food curbside to account for the closures, but according to The Wall Street Journal a handful of shippers and receivers now demand drivers sign affidavits saying they aren’t sick.