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Manitoba trucking association calling for common sense amid COVID-19 fears

Terry Shaw, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association.
Terry Shaw, executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association. Kevin Hirschfield/Global News

Despite increased health and security concerns connected to the coronavirus pandemic, trucks from Manitoba are continuing to travel back and forth across the Canada/U.S. border, carrying essential goods.

According to the executive director of the Manitoba Trucking Association, however, some local truckers are experiencing some unexpected difficulties in their efforts to do their job.

READ MORE: Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau says border closure will not impact critical supply chains

Terry Shaw told 680 CJOB on Wednesday that he’s heard reports of facilities on the Canadian side refusing to accept loads delivered by a trucker who has been in the U.S. — due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We’re hearing some people who are taking some actions that I obviously have to assume they believe are well-intended,” said Shaw, “but they’re damaging to the movement of these essential goods and to our truck-driving staff.

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“It’s not widespread at this point, but we just want to take the opportunity to educate the general public and do what we can to nip it in the bud.”

Truckers, he said, conduct social distancing as a basic function of their job, which is primarily done alone.

“They’re engaging in all the health and safety protocols, so there’s no requirement — let alone recommendation — to discriminate against truck drivers because they’re bringing in supplies from the United States.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: How long can Canadians expect to be social distancing?

Another issue truckers are facing, he said, is being refused at restaurants that have converted to drive-thru only due to coronavirus fears.

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Unfortunately, truckers aren’t able to take a tractor-trailer through a drive-thru, and drivers often need to make a quick stop to use a washroom and wash their hands or fill up a water bottle.

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Shaw is asking for fast-food spots to make exceptions for truckers, and to provide them with service if they have to walk up to a drive-thru.

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“We’re making a call for some common sense.”

“Trucking is an essential service — that’s not the opinion of the Manitoba Trucking Association, that’s the opinion of the Prime Minister of Canada.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that travel restrictions won’t affect truckers travelling back and forth across the border.

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In an email to Global News, Gerry Rempel of Len Dubois Trucking said he’s heard from drivers encountering similar problems.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Governments grapple with lockdowns, border closures as virus spreads

“One of our drivers was messaging me last night, and one of his first messages was, ‘tell the other drivers to pack lots of food, most places already cut off food and now are cutting off coffee as well’,” said Rempel.
“We are instructing our drivers to pack food and water before they leave home, as our trucks are equipped with fridges and microwaves.”

Rempel said, as a former truck driver himself, that he’s extremely proud of the way he’s seen the industry handle the adversity brought on by the health crisis.

“I just want to say how proud I am of our truck drivers, and all the truck drivers out there… knowing full well the impact of COVID-19, but doing what needs to be done to keep the supply chain of goods moving for all of us during this epidemic.”
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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.