Circle K answers call to facilitate Front Line support Drivers: Comprehensive updates from across Europe re Transport and the Coronavirus

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Circle K to support truck drivers
Container delivery in a city

Service Station provider Circle K to support truck drivers; reopening showers

Gordon Lawlor, Managing Director of Circle K Ireland, has confirmed with the Irish Road haulage Association (IRHA) that although it has  currently closed showers in a number of its service station sites, from 27.03 they have been reopened, and the below listed sites will have showers available 24 hours per day:

  • Cashel
  • Ballacolla
  • Fermoy
  • Dublin Port
  • Junction 5
  • Kilcullen
  • M6 Athlone
  • Gorey

Mr. Lawlor also mentioned that “Toilets at all of our company owned stores remain open to the public.”

Regarding the availability of food and beverage – the revised Circle K Deli opening hours are listed below.  “I can also assure customers that we will have a food-to-go offer available at all our company owned stores when delis are closed and in non-deli stores.”

Deli New Trading Hours

Cavan – 0500 to 1600

Coolfore – 0600 to 1400 (Mon to Fri)

Monaghan – 24 hours

M6 Athlone – 24 hours

Junction 5 – 0700 to 1800

Kilcullen – 24 hours

Kill South – 24 hours

Kill North – 24 hours

City North – 0600 to 1500

Clonshaugh – 0600 to 1600

Cashel – 24 hours

Ballysimon – 0600 to 1600

Fermoy – 24 hours

Ballcolla – 24 hours

Lakeview – 0600 to 1400

Kilmacanogue – 0600 to 1700

Beechwood – 0600 to 1400

Gorey – 24 hours

Grange Castle – 0600 to 1600 (Mon to Fri)

Greenhills – 0700 to 1500 (Mon to Fri)

Belgard – 0600 to 1500 (Mon to Fri)

Athy – 0600 to 1700

City Avenue – 0500 to 1700 (Mon to Fri), 0700 to 1500 (Sat & Sun)

City West – 0600 to 1500

Statement from Paul Balfe, Commercial & BCS Director, Circle K – Ireland

“The Government has recognised our fuel and convenience retail outlets as providing essential services and therefore our service station network will remain open in order for us to continue providing essential services to the public in these challenging times. We are very proud that we have been recognised by Government as essential workers & essential services in this crisis and Circle K will continue to play a crucial role.

Our company owned service stations are open and fully operational today. We will continue to open our doors to the public & to provide all the essential services such as food, coffee, groceries, solid fuels and our toilets & shower facilities will remain open. We take these decisions knowing that many of the emergency services, front-line health care workers & hauliers rely on us for these services.

We will be further enhancing social distancing measures in store and there will be a requirement to control the number of people in the store at any one time.

We will keep monitoring updates from the HSE, Department of Health and World Health Organisation and will follow their expert advice.

As we now enter this critical period for our country, we need to continue to play our part in supporting the healthcare staff, the emergency workers and other providers of essential services who are keeping us safe and keeping the country going at this difficult time.

We are currently updating our website (www.circlek.ie) with an information page where you can receive regular updates. Our site locator can be accessed here (https://www.circlek.ie/service-station/site-locator/) where you also find site opening hours.

If you require further assistance or clarity at any time please contact our customer service centre on 091-482900 or please contact your Account Manager directly.”

Continuing our pan-European news updates relating to road transport operations and COVID-19

Border controls surrounding BULGARIA

Since 18.03.2020 – it is temporarily forbidden for trucks coming from Iran to enter and transit through Bulgaria. On the country’s borders, the following information is from the Ministry of Interior:

Turkey – On the border entry point “Kapitan Andreevo” there is still a big queue because of the intense sanitary measures applied on the Turkish side. A few days ago the queue was 50 km. On 26 March, the Union of Bulgarian International Hauliers organised an undertaking of support for the drivers waiting at the border, delivering them food, water, safety masks and disinfectants.

In the last 24 hours, more than 3,000 heavy trucks have entered Bulgaria of which 1,200 were heading to Kapitan Andreevo. After the measures taken, the number of processed heavy trucks heading to Turkey has increased almost threefold, resulting in 1700 being processed at Kapitan Andreevo for 24 hours.

The former military airport of Uzundzhovo (near the Bulgaria-Turkey border) has been transformed into a buffer parking space for heavy trucks heading to Turkey. The parking space has been fitted with lighting, and chemical toilets and temporary food stalls have been set up.

The Republic of Turkey has introduced restrictions for truck drivers coming from countries significantly impacted by the pandemic. However, Bulgarian trucks can still enter at this time.

Romania – On the Danube Bridge at Ruse, there is very busy truck traffic although trucks can now go through in 6 lanes instead of the usual 3. On the Danube bridge at Vidin the traffic is normal. Transit trucks to Romania can pass only trough Ruse-Guergevo or Vidin Kalafat.

The heavy truck traffic at border points with Greece, Serbia and North Macedonia is normal. According to the Macedonian border police, empty trucks will not be allowed between the hours of 7am and 10pm (in both directions).

Extended lockdown in FRANCE

The French Prime Minister has announced two more weeks lockdown for the entire country (until April 15, 2020).

Nothing really changed compared to what we have in place already. No restriction for road transport, but more and more road transport companies stop activities because there is no more business. Factories stopped activities and automatically reduced transport volume.

The most ironic development is that the price for transport is less than before the crisis. Many trucks are available, but no goods to transport.

Only part where it works well, is with food transport. Government has offered help for all companies and banks have postponed all credit for 3 or 6 months without any repayment penalties.

Nothing more for the moment, but that one of the biggest airports in France – Orly in Paris will close next week. Never happened before in history.

Supply Chain collapsing in GERMANY

The rule of free cabotage is stopped. However, drivers may still extend their driving hours. In Germany, we have a big problem at the warehouses. Since everything is based on “rolling warehouses” on the autobahn, shops cannot store all the products they have to order because the people keep panic-buying. So there are huge queues with many trucks even sent away again without unloading. Still, politicians claim, that Germany does not have a shortage in any necessary goods. That is partly right, since the industry produces enough goods. But the supply chain is close to collapsing.

Another issue are waiting times. A driver has informed us that he had to wait 17 hours on the Swiss boarder.

Lockdown for 10 weeks in GREECE

All truck, bus and taxi drivers (not owners) receive €800 Euros cash from 1st of April without exception or terms. Owners and companies get emergency funding, postponement of loan payments, tax exemptions etc. How much and how soon changes every day. Borders situation: now closed completely between Turkey and Greece. Relaxed driving hours, Code 95 etc as everywhere else. All technical inspection points closed. ADR permits extended.

The so-called curve looks okay here, but the tone of local chief epidemiologist is not very optimistic: “Any comment on positive diagrams less infections, less this, less that is highly unreliable, self-fabricated and gives fake hopes. Strongly suggested to all citizens to be prepared for ongoing complete house isolation, with zero contacts with anyone not living in the same household for at least 10 weeks”.

Fuel station strike ends in ITALY

The nationwide fuel filling station strike has been cancelled, due to the pressure by the Italian Government.

In Italy, most of the fuel station are family owned, small companies, but with the largest petrol companies’ brand logos. Many of them are suffering from the traffic slowdown. Reserves are running out  and these operators will be not able to buy fuels. And the companies seem unwilling to give them credit. So, no strike at the moment, since there has been a meeting between unions and Government. The major stations along the highways will stay open, since they are bigger and benefiting from some kind of help by the motorway authorities. The others may have some problems, but in these days the traffic is down and there is far less request of fuels.

The association of logistic companies and forwarding agencies (FEDESPEDI) has asked the Government to allow the forwarding and logistic companies to operate in a proper way to avoid any disruption in the logistic chain. Basically, logistic companies asked the Government to clarify the perimeter of the lockdown decree not to stop or disrupt warehouse and logistic hub activities.

The Italian Ministry of Transportation has decided that trucks over 7.5 tonnes are not subject to circulation restrictions on Sunday March 29 and Sunday April 5, 2020. These days for Italian residents are incredible. For business and media, hours are spent in video call to manage everything.

 New tighter laws in POLAND

The Polish Parliament has implemented new tighter laws, until 1 April, aimed to protect economy and jobs. For instance, Government will support small companies (up to 9 employees) with up to 40 percent salary grant aid for any lay-offs . Surely  many transport firms in Poland are small family businesses) and maybe covered by the new law.

On the borders, truck flow (also includes small 3.5 tonnes vans with goods) performs normally. Truck drivers are the only one group excluded from general quarantine rules. Generally all people entering Polish territory is sent for 14 days stay in one localisation. Police checks every day, if they stay. And 90 percent stay!

There are problems on Ukrainian  and Belarus borders (external EU borders) where waiting time is estimated between 6-16 hours. Closing border movements for people for 14 days caused a big rush of people trying to escape to their homes, not to be stuck in exile.

As Poland has a large ADR transportation segment, the Ministry of Transport has asked drivers not to come to medical centres and hospitals when their certificates expired. Documents are prolonged automatically for next 3 months.

Drivers unprotected in PORTUGAL

Boarders are closed with Spain. Lisbon airport is almost shut down. Only used for emergency flights. TAP airline maintains some connections with the islands.

Covid-19 cases are increasing. Concerning transportation – In Portugal, in fact, care was taken on the part of those who govern, to maintain maximum weekly work and minimum daily rest limits. In other European countries, the suspension of rules on driving times and rest was much broader. In any case, it should be said, that neither ANTRAM’s (that represent the drivers) authorities and associated companies do not intend to receive from its drivers to do more work beyond normal.

ANTRAM is essentially focused on maintaining the jobs at this time which is also very delicate for the companies. The fleets of most companies are virtually at a standstill, loses are high, with no solution in sight and only in a state of union between companies and workers. Solutions have to be found that allow the survival of companies and jobs. Drivers are complaining that they don’t have protection material and when they enter Portugal they are asked do self-isolate for 5 days, which they are not doing.

Changes to Drivers’ Hours in SPAIN

From 29 March until 12 April, Spain has introduced the following flexibility relating to compliance with EU Regulation 561/2006.

– Extension of the daily driving time from 9-10 hours twice per week, as long as the daily and weekly breaks are complied with.

– A 45-hour regular weekly rest and one 24-hour reduced weekly rest can be taken in a two-week period without the need to compensate the latter.

– The regular weekly rest can be taken in the cabin, provided that it is properly equipped to do so.

Driver fatigue an issue in the UK

UK Truck Drivers need urgent support to target fatigue when making COVID Emergency deliveries or risk steep increase In road accidents, according to SmartWitness which has advised that if truck drivers are allowed to have what amounts to 20% more driving time then they should at least be supplied with special fatigue monitors which will alert them if they are starting to suffer from tiredness.

Road transport firms are advised to install additional safety devices to help their drivers know when they are getting tired and they are losing concentration. Driver Distraction Detection Systems provide audible alerts to drivers who are suffering from fatigue and also sends alerts to their fleet managers to warn of potential risks of accidents. They check to see if the driver’s eyes are open and paying attention to the road. If the driver takes his eyes off the road for more than 20-seconds an audible alarm sounds to warn him or her of a potential safety risk.