PEI

How truckers are protecting themselves themselves in the COVID-19 pandemic

As you watch toilet-paper, canned-vegetable and cleaning-supply aisles get cleared out in P.E.I. stores, it is only because truckers are on the road that the shelves are getting restocked at all.

Company focused on supplying essentials

Seafood Express typically has 85 to 90 drivers on the road at any given time. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

As you watch toilet-paper, canned-vegetable and cleaning-supply aisles get cleared out in P.E.I. stores, it is only because truckers are on the road that the shelves are getting restocked at all.

"They're exposing themselves in the heart of this pandemic, but we're doing everything we can to make sure they stay safe," said Andy Keith, vice-president of the Charlottetown-based trucking company Seafood Express.

"We still need to deliver everybody's food products, medical supplies, cleaning supplies, all that kind of stuff."

The company has close to 100 drivers out on the road at any given time in two somewhat separate operations. One runs back and forth between the port in Halifax, and the other works across the continent.

Keith said normally the trucks drive all over North America, but currently they are focused on key markets best-suited to supplying essentials.

Social distancing

Seafood Express drivers are staying in their trucks as much as they can while on the road.

Loading and unloading is being done by local warehouse staff without any personal contact with the driver. Communication is by phone. The driver backs up to the loading bay, stays in the cab, and drives off when the work is done.

"Everybody, really, in the industry is understanding the severity of what's going on and how important it is to keep your distance," said Keith.

Seafood Express, in communication with other trucking companies in the region, is keeping track of what truck stops are open so drivers can pick up a takeout meal or find a shower.

Even back on the Island, Keith said some drivers are maintaining social distancing. Some of the company's temporary foreign workers live in their trucks, and stay there while on P.E.I.

The company does have some older drivers, who have health conditions, who have decided to stop driving during the pandemic.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning

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