PEI

P.E.I. truckers self-isolating in discounted hotel rooms due to COVID-19

Bayron Rodolfo Chacon wasn’t sure where he was going to stay when he came back to the Island, but over the weekend he took advantage of a new agreement between Rodd Royalty and the provincial government to allow truckers to self-isolate.

'I was able to go sleep in a bed and have a nice hot shower and get out of the truck'

Susanne Gray, with Seafood Express, says the company brought the concerns of truckers wanting to self-isolate to the P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council, who in turn reached out to government to look at options. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

Bayron Rodolfo Chacon is a P.E.I. trucker who typically does six-week runs, but on his off-days he's still not seeing his family in Montague.

He says his two children are at high risk of becoming seriously ill if they develop COVID-19.

Chacon wasn't sure where he was going to stay when he came back to the Island, but over the weekend he took advantage of a new agreement between Rodd Royalty and the provincial government to allow truckers to self-isolate.

The provincial government announced Thursday that a discounted fee of $20 a night would be billed to the driver's company, with no up-front cost to the drivers.

"I was off this weekend for a couple days and I was able to go sleep in a bed and have a nice hot shower and get out of the truck for a little bit," he said.

'Definitely' using it again

Truckers with a valid Class 1 licence or equivalent from other jurisdictions can present their IDs at the front desk at Rodd Royalty to check in.

Chacon said it was a good experience and he was able to relax as much as he could, considering there is a global pandemic.

P.E.I. trucker Bayron Rodolfo Chacon is headed for Atlanta. He pulled over in Woodstock, N.B., just before the Canada-U.S. border, to talk through video chat. (Bayron Rodolfo Chacon)

"I think it's great what the government is doing for us truckers," he said.

"I definitely will be using it again."

Chacon said his room had a microwave, small fridge, Wi-Fi and a TV and getting food wasn't a problem.

"It's P.E.I. It's a great place to live so I have friends there that they pop by with a meal and, you know, my girlfriend will come and bring me some food," he said.

No problem with parking

Chacon said he didn't have any trouble finding parking for his truck, though he didn't have a trailer attached.

"You can park there just with the truck," he said. "There's a lot of room to park with a truck in there."

They also don't have to put their families at risk by going home.— Susanne Gray, Seafood Express

Chacon said though he can't see his kids in person, he is keeping in contact through video messaging.

"My son is eight years old and he just discovered Kids Messenger and that's all he does now calling me all the time."

Positive feedback

Chacon isn't the only driver who has taken up the offer of a discounted room.

Seafood Express, a transportation company located in Charlottetown, said it has three drivers staying at Rodd Royalty at the moment.

Susanne Gray, the recruiting and marketing co-ordinator with the company, said so far the feedback from drivers has been great.

"They appreciate that we are paying for them to have a nice place to stay and they can kind of get out of their trucks a little bit," she said.

"They also don't have to put their families at risk by going home, as they have travelled internationally."

We certainly need them, so their health is very important to us and that, I guess, is why this is all key.— Brian Oulton, P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council

Drivers with the company were sent a newsletter telling them to email Gray with a request and the dates they needed a place to stay, she said.

The company brought the concerns of truckers wanting to self-isolate to the P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council, which reached out to government to look at options.

Drivers need to stay healthy

Brian Oulton, executive director of the council, said it reached out to the province and the Emergency Measures Organization when they first began hearing from drivers.

"We had drivers that you know had family members that were elderly or you know, have compromised immune systems that prevented them returning home," he said. "So they were essentially living out of their trucks."

Things you don't think about, being able to get your laundry done, having a nice warm shower and just getting that time to relax.— Brian Oulton, P.E.I. Trucking Sector Council

Oulton said the province acted quickly to secure the deal with Rodd Royalty.

"It's made a huge impact for those that are coming home. You just have to think about the drivers, you know, they need to get relaxed and have some downtime to stay healthy out there," he said.

"We certainly need them, so their health is very important to us and that, I guess, is why this is all key."

Oulton said because P.E.I. doesn't have a truck stop, accessing showers, laundry facilities and washrooms became an issue for drivers. He said this agreement will really help.

"Little things you don't think about, being able to get your laundry done, having a nice warm shower and just getting that time to relax," he said.

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.

  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.

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