Drivers transporting food, medicine and other necessary products to shops and pharmacies will not be fined for violating work and rest times, according to the decision of the Belgian Minister of Transport. The suspension of working time in Belgium lasts only until 18 March and is the consequence of the current situation caused by the coronavirus.
To avoid running out of stock and the increasing panic among the population, I decided to allow a temporary and total tolerance regarding the enforcement of driving and resting times under Article 14 paragraph 2 of Regulation 561/2006 for active drivers in the transport of food, medicine and other items necessary to supply stores and pharmacies, „wrote Francois Bellot, Belgian Minister of Transport, in the announcement .
The temporary suspension of the enforcement of working time and rest periods applies from Saturday, 14 March for 5 days – until 18 March, until 23:59.
What is important and what the minister emphasizes strongly in the announcement is that the suspension applies only to drivers involved in the transportation of food, medicine and other articles necessary for the supply of stores and pharmacies.
The drivers in question must indicate on the back of their tachograph record sheets or printouts the reason why they exceed the normal limits – notes the ministry.
The suspension of driver working time does not free employers of liability
The minister remarked in the announcement that the temporary suspension of the rules resulted from exceptional circumstances caused by the outbreaks of the coronavirus. However, this cannot affect safety.
I want it to be clear that driver and road safety cannot be neglected. Therefore, drivers should not be expected to drive when they are tired – employers are responsible for the safety of their employees and other road users „- noted Francois Bellot.
Belgium is not the only country that, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, has suspended the rules applicable to road freight transport. Similar steps have been taken, among others including Spain, Hungary and Germany.
Any questions related to how to interpret the provisional arrangements should be directed primarily to the email address of the Belgian Ministry of Transport: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Wikimedia / Kevin.B CC SA 4.0