The FMCSA’s pandemic-related waivers and exemptions that were due to expire on Nov. 30, 2021, have been extended another three months, through Feb. 28, 2022. This applies to certain drivers who have had trouble renewing their CDL/CLP or medical certificate or who are transporting critical supplies in support of pandemic relief efforts. The latest update does not include any changes to the substance of the waivers/exemptions, only the relevant dates.
Food is not automatically exempt under an emergency declaration. The shipment of food must meet the terms of the declaration to qualify for the exemption. In the case of the COVID-related emergency declaration, it states that the hours-of-service regulations in Part 395 do not apply to the driver if the driver is transporting "food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores." If the shipment is a normal shipment and not an emergency shipment intended to restock an empty warehouse or store, the exemption created by the declaration does not apply.
As far as proof the shipment qualifies, the driver typically needs to be carrying a copy of the emergency declaration and it is best if the shipment paperwork details the cargo and states that the shipment is moving under the emergency declaration. To verify the shipment qualifies, an inspection officer is likely to call the shipper and/or receiver to verify the information the driver provides. If the officer determines the driver does not qualify for the exemption created by the emergency declaration, and the driver is over hours, the driver will be written a violation and placed out of service.