This week, the Federal Government announced new exemptions for roadhouses, allowing Aussie truck drivers to continue do their work safely.
At the start of the week, there were concerning reports of roadhouses shutting their doors to comply with COVID-19 mitigation requirements despite truck drivers delivering food and other essential items.
The manager of Hattah Outback Roadhouse in Victoria, Robert Stephens, said closing the doors on roadhouses would have significant consequences for truckies and the food supply chain.
“My main concerns have been how we could best be prepared for keeping our truck drivers fed, showered and rested in the safest possible way,” Rob said.
“We had approximately 60 truck drivers and members of the general public all trying to share two toilets and showers. It was a disaster waiting to happen.”
Robert said that drivers were now equipped with sanitiser and the appropriate health protocols to allow them to stay as safe as possible during the current harvest season.
On Monday night, the National Cabinet mandated that roadhouses, dedicated truck stop facilities and truck driver lounges could remain open for heavy vehicle drivers only.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the trucking sector played a critical role in Australia’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak supplying essential items to Australians in need.
“Our truck drivers are transporting everything from supermarket supplies and fuel to vital medical equipment and medicine to where it is needed across Australia,” Minister McCormack said.
“We have heard their concerns loud and clear and this is a common sense solution which ensures heavy vehicle drivers have access to essential amenities, can take regular breaks and eat properly whilst delivering their vital cargo.”
The NFF welcomed the decision by the National Cabinet and said it spoke to agriculture and the food supply chain’s status as an essential service.
“Truckies are the glue that sticks the whole supply chain together,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
“Their safety and wellbeing, in terms of driving and protection from COVID-19 has to be a priority.”