EDMONTON — Alberta has joined other provinces in granting truck drivers an exemption from the 14-day quarantine required for those crossing the border from the United States.
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said as long as drivers feel OK, they can forgo the isolation. The trucking industry says getting essential supplies into the province could be a problem if the truckers have to comply with the isolation rules.
As a truck driver, Sam Brar spends most of his time alone. Still, he’s taking extra precautions.
“I make sure that it’s always clean and I’m using sanitizer all the time,” he said.
He worries about the impact of the pandemic, not only on his livelihood but the supply chain.
“We haul all the things people need on a daily basis too right like water, like groceries. What would you do if there’s no trucks on the road and there would be nothing in the stores?”
“If you have to wait 14 days for your driver to go back to work it slows down capacity in the transportation industry,” said Chris Nash, Alberta Motor Transport Association president.
“A truck load of pillows, maybe that’s not really a priority but when you have medicine, you have food all the stuff that we need to live daily, it has to keep moving,” he said.
Drivers see very few people when hauling goods, said Jude Groves, safety and training director at Rosenau.
“Filling up gas, might run into one or two people or delivering a load or picking up a load probably shipper and receiver that’s basically it.”
Companies like Rosenau Transport are taking steps to handle things like paperwork, further reducing contact drivers have with others.
“At the end of the day we’re trying to avoid the hotspots, trying to avoid anything that could potentially put an employee at risk,” said Groves.
“We’re the backbone really of this country, making sure stuff gets on the shelves,” said Nash. “What we see happening now we have to make sure that it keeps moving.”
As long as the pandemic lasts, Brar says he’d prefer to be on the road.
“I feel safer on the work than I am in my normal life when I’m at home.”