Transport trucks approach the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Long-haul truckers are playing an important role bringing supplies into Canada, but some people are concerned not enough is being done to ensure they aren’t transporting COVID-19 with them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke

Truckers taking precautions to fight COVID-19 amid spreading concerns

Truckers and other essential border crossers are exempt from the 14-day quarantine

Long-haul truckers are playing an important role in bringing supplies into Canada, but some people are concerned not enough is being done to ensure they aren’t transporting COVID-19 with them.

“They get the four-question screening … There’s no actual physical scan. There’s not a temperature scan,” said Jim Willett, mayor of Coutts, Alta.

His village sits next to one of the busiest United States border crossings in Western Canada, and Willett said he sees semi-trailers going back and forth all day.

While he has a lot of respect for the drivers, Willett said he fears they may not be reporting symptoms or be may not be aware they have the virus, especially if they are coming from hard-hit areas in the U.S.

“My problem is with the screening that goes on with those truckers, they are basically on an honour system. Even though 95 per cent of them are honourable, there’s always those that aren’t,” the mayor said. “So, I am worried that that is going to be a continual source of infection.”

There have been over a half-million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 20,000 deaths. Canada has over 23,000 reported cases and more than 650 fatalities.

The border between the two countries closed to most travellers last month, the first such closure since Confederation in 1867. It is still open to people and businesses providing essential services.

Canada Border Services Agency is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada, said CBSA spokeswoman Rebecca Purdy in an email.

When crossing the border, drivers are asked the purpose of their travel and if they are feeling unwell. Purdy said border agents are also trained to observe any signs of illness. If it’s deemed drivers can pass, they are given a public health handout with information about the virus.

Truckers, and others who are exempt from the border closure and the mandatory 14-day isolation period for returning travellers, are still required to continually self-monitor for symptoms and practise proper self-isolation measures.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is responsible for bringing in measures like thermal screening, Purdy said. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, Purdy said those checks were done at airports but weren’t effective in stopping the infectious disease from crossing borders.

She could not say if or how many long-haul trucks have not been allowed into Canada due to COVID-19.

“The border has gone through a major transformation unlike anything we have seen before,” said Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

It took monumental planning and co-operation between governments in both countries and the trucking industry, he added in an interview from Toronto.

As people see the world slow down around them, it is necessary to have long-haul truckers still out on the road delivering essential supplies, Laskowski said. Precautions are being taken to ensure drivers and inspectors are safe.

Everyone is practising social distancing, hand sanitizer and washing is being promoted and more inspector booths have been opened. Most locations have gone to a cashless system as well, Laskowski said. Documents on best practices may also be given to drivers and inspectors.

Washing hands and grabbing a meal — things that seemed easy a few months ago — have been challenging for drivers, said Laskowski. But there has been a lot of encouragement from the public.

When drivers aren’t on the clock, they are following the same rules as everyone else, said Laskowsi.

“These are very challenging times for everyone, not just the trucking industry.”

READ MORE: ‘Business as usual’: B.C. truckers crossing U.S. border despite COVID-19

READ MORE: ‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

READ MORE: Rest stops barring washroom access to truckers a ‘huge problem’ as COVID-19 spreads

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Nelson council backtracks on one-way High Street

Bike corridor will have two shared lanes, reduced vehicle traffic and lower speed limits

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Help the Nelson Star continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Black Press is now accepting donations to keep its papers operating

Vancouver Island First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read