The current situation due to the spread of the coronavirus causes uncertainty in many areas. The transport industry, in particular, must prepare for exceptional circumstances due to supply bottlenecks. We will inform you about the decisions already taken to defuse the situation and the possible further measures so that you can already prepare for this.
Relaxation of the Sunday driving ban in some German federal states
++ Update of 24 April ++
Excemption from truck driving bans in all federal states
In the meantime, all federal states have made arrangements for excemptions from Sunday and holiday driving bans. However, these are valid for different lengths of time. You can find a current overview here (German only): Federal Office for Goods Transport
As at 16 March
Because of the expected supply bottlenecks, the federal government has already recommended as one of the first measures for freight transport to relax the ban on Sunday driving for trucks and to refrain from controls. Some states have already followed suit, such as Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. The relaxation applies primarily to the transport of non-perishable food and hygiene products; the period of validity varies from state to state, but at least until the beginning of April.
Thuringia currently rejects a lifting of the Sunday driving bans because only companies from Eastern Europe would benefit from it. The state is still in favour of applying for a special permit.
Derogations on driving and rest periods and suspension of checks
++ Update of 17 April ++
Relaxation of driving and rest periods applies until 31 May
The exceptions to the regulations on driving times and rest periods for certain transports will initially remain valid until 31 May. This was announced by the Federal Ministry of Transport. Otherwise, the special regulations will remain unchanged.
Source (German): Verkehrsrundschau
++ Update of 26 March ++
Cabotage relaxation withdrawn – Freight transport pact with associations
With immediate effect, the German Federal Ministry of Transport has withdrawn the relaxation of the cabotage regulations. German Federal Transportation Minister Andreas Scheuer said that the decree would be suspended, also in order to help the German industry.
The suspension of the decree was decided in the framework of a freight transport pact, which the Federal Ministry of Transport has worked out in coordination with industry associations.
Source (German): Eurotransport
++ Update of 23 March ++
No complaint if key number 95 is missing on the driving licence
The Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG) is relaxing the checks on driving licences concerning the key number 95. If it is missing, no objections will be raised for the time being until April 17, 2020, so that as many drivers as possible can continue to transport much-needed goods.
Source (German): Verkehrsrundschau
++ Update of March 20 ++
Temporary suspension of driving and rest periods also in Germany
Deviations from the regulations on driving and rest periods are permitted for specific transports:
- Goods for daily consumption, in particular food and feed, between production, storage and sales premises;
- Goods for medical care as well as for containment, control and management of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic (in particular also products for analysis of the infection, protective equipment relevant to infection, disinfectants, etc.) or
Drivers who transport these goods may
- extend the daily driving time to ten hours not more than five times a week
- take two consecutive reduced weekly rest periods (subject to further conditions)
Details can be found on the BAG’s website (German): www.bag.bund.de
Suspension of checks on cabotage operations until 30 September 2020 Transports of the goods mentioned above should also be relieved in cabotage operations. The authorities responsible for controls and the punishment of administrative offences in the field of road freight transport are therefore requested to refrain from prosecuting and punishing infringements of road freight transport law concerning the authorisation requirement and cabotage regulations for these transports until 30.09.2020. Relevant EU legislation and national legislation, as well as the regulations on driving and rest periods (with the exceptions as mentioned earlier), must be respected.
++ Update of 26 March 2020 ++
The relaxation of the cabotage regime was withdrawn with immediate effect. Source (German): Eurotransport
As at 16 March 2020:
The Federal Association of Road Haulage, Logistics and Waste Disposal (BGL) is calling for a crisis emergency plan from politicians. The association has proposed various measures, including a more flexible regulation of driving and rest times, the implementation of which should ensure the supply of the population and the economy (German): www.bgl-ev.de
Regarding the punishment of violations of the regulations on driving and rest times, the following important information is available for the state of Thuringia:
On March 11, 2020, the Thuringian Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Health, Women and Family (TMASGFF) issued a decree on complaints about violations of social regulations. According to this decree, charges that are due to official orders in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) are not to be pursued by the Thuringian State Office for Consumer Protection (TLV). The TMASGFF decree applies to passenger and freight transport. The reason was the request of the Verband Mitteldeutscher Omnibusunternehmer e.V. (MDO) regarding problems encountered by German bus drivers on their return journeys from Italy.
The social ministries (responsible for the punishment of violations) of all German federal states are required to act in a similar way as in Thuringia. The current state of implementation varies.
Current regulations in Europe
++ Update 25 March 2020 ++
In the meantime, most EU and non-EU countries have adopted exceptions to driving and rest periods.
The exact validity periods of the regulations in the individual countries can be found in the overview: » to the overview
As at 16 March 2020:
Articles 6 to 9 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 shall temporarily not apply to vehicles used for transport in order to remove the bottlenecks that have arisen and to maintain general supplies. This derogation shall start at 16 March 2020.
As of 13 March 2020, the rules on weekly rest periods (Article 8(6) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006) will be repealed for all national freight transport in Denmark.
The Directorate of Public Roads grants an exemption from the driving time regulation for certain transport activities such as food distribution, medical equipment, etc.
The following conditions apply:
- the exemption is valid from 13 March 2020
- the exemption is granted from Articles 6 and 8 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, but in such a way that
- the driver’s daily rest periods are at least 9 hours
- the driver has at least one reduced weekly rest period per week during the dispensation period
Starting 16 March 2020, a temporary relaxation of driving time and rest period regulations for drivers of vehicles directly related to the “Corona crisis” will apply. It will apply to both domestic and international transport.
The following changes will apply temporarily (subject to the requirement that the safety of drivers and road traffic is not endangered):
- Derogation from Article 8(1) of Regulation 561/2006: Reduction of the daily rest period requirements from 11 to 9 hours
- Derogation from Article 8(6) of Regulation 561/2006: reduction of the normal weekly rest period from 45 to 24 hours
- The daily driving time, the weekly driving time and the two-week driving time may be extended as long as the requirements for daily and weekly rest are met
Recommended action for companies and drivers
Drivers who, due to the Corona situation, cannot comply with the rules on driving and rest periods should always document this. To this end, the driver must note the nature and reason for this failure in writing on the record sheet of the recording equipment or on a printout from the recording equipment or in the duty roster at the latest when reaching the stopping place (Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006).
In order to support you in your daily business and in coping with this exceptional situation, we will supplement this article with new information as soon as we receive it. Concerning the decisions and orders of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) you will find the essential information on the following page (German): www.bmvi.de