Truck drivers around Australia racing to keep up with the demand for goods around the country will be getting back into truckstops this week after the National Cabinet announced an exemption to the closure of restaurants.
Back on March 24, the National Cabinet agreed a set of restrictions closing restaurants and cafes, with exceptions provided for takeaway services and home delivery. Roadhouse and rest stop facilities that provide meal and hygiene facilities for the trucking industry were included in this ban.
After an outcry from across the trucking industry, the National Cabinet agreed to exempt these facilities from the non-essential services restrictions and allow these facilities to continue supplying their services to heavy vehicle drivers.
The Australian Trucking Association welcomed new protocols released by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
“The ATA and our members have been pushing for these facilities remain open so drivers can keep Australia moving,” said Ben Maguire, ATA CEO. “A truck driver’s workplace is our roads and highways, so it’s vital they have the proper facilities like showers, toilets, and comfortable places to have a meal. These new guidelines will help businesses play their important role in supporting drivers, and ensuring their health and safety.”
The new protocols outline vital health and safety measures including properly cleaning and sanitising showers and toilets, spacing out seating, minimising interactions between staff and drivers and removing self-serve options.
Roadhouses will be authorised to continue providing services to heavy vehicle drivers in need of food, showers, restrooms and a place to break from driving to manage their fatigue under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
“This is a good and sensible announcement by the Government and is in the best interests of the health and safety of our truck drivers,” said Senator Glenn Sterle, in a statement. “Since last Monday, I have heard from hundreds of drivers, families of truck drivers and their representative associations who got in touch with me to share their concerns about what was happening out there on the road and the conditions they were facing at roadhouses and rest areas across the country.
“Transport companies remain concerned about the shortage of cleaning and sanitation supplies and the health impact that may have on their workers. Truck drivers remain concerned about working conditions at distribution centres without adequate sanitation and social distancing practices being enforced. Truck drivers are finding it tough to get their shopping done with tight turn arounds and should be considered as essential workers by the major food retailers so that they can access the same dedicated shopping time as other essential workers can access.”