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Law Alert: FMCSA Issues Expanded Emergency Declaration for COVID-19 Relief Efforts

by Jerad T. Childress, Thomas  E. O'Donnell, Prasad Sharma, Brandon K. Wiseman, Timothy W. Wiseman

Mar 18, 2020

In response to concerns that its earlier COVID-19 emergency declaration was ambiguous in some regards, FMCSA issued an Expanded Emergency Declaration on Wednesday afternoon, adding to the list of transportation services covered under the exemption and clarifying the exemption’s carve-out for “mixed loads.” As with its original declaration, the Expanded Declaration provides an exemption from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks. The list of services and goods covered by the exemption has been refined to include:

  1. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;
  2. Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants;
  3. Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores;
  4. Immediate precursor raw materials-such as paper, plastic or alcohol-that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items in categories (1), (2) or (3);
  5. Fuel;
  6. Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;
  7. Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and
  8. Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

While the Expanded Declaration continues to carve out “routine commercial deliveries” from the scope of the exemption, it clarifies that “mixed loads” of qualifying and non-qualifying emergency relief can fall within the exemption so long as they contain more than just a “nominal” amount of a qualifying material added just to qualify for relief under the declaration. The full text of the Expanded Declaration is available here

If you have questions about the scope of the Declaration or its exemptions, contact Scopelitis attorneys Tim Wiseman, Brandon Wiseman, Prasad Sharma, Tom O’Donnell, or Jerad Childress.

To stay abreast of the latest news regarding COVID-19 and the transportation industry, please visit the Scopelitis COVID-19 Task Force resource page

If you have questions regarding COVID-19, please email

News from Scopelitis is intended as a report to our clients and friends on developments affecting the transportation industry. The published material does not constitute an exhaustive legal study and should not be regarded or relied upon as individual legal advice or opinion.

© Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, P.C. 2020. All rights reserved. 

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