Utah exempts truckers from travel declaration after backlash

After initially requiring all drivers entering the state to fill out an electronic COVID-19 travel declaration, officials in Utah have issued a new exemption for truckers and other essential workers.

Last week, Utah Governor Gary Herbert issued an executive order requiring all drivers over the age of 18 entering the state to fill out a travel declaration in an attempt to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

The travel declaration asked several health questions and instructed drivers to provide information on where they had traveled lately. Utah set up geofencing at several major entry points into the state and distributed the travel declaration via text message using the federal Wireless Emergency Alerts system.

After the executive order went into effect, several trucking groups including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) expressed concern about privacy issues associated with the travel declaration.

In a letter to Governor Herbert, OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote:

We are very concerned by your decision to issue an Executive Order requiring all individuals who enter the Utah to complete a travel declaration form. We appreciate your efforts to protect Utahans from this dangerous virus, but imposing this extraordinary requirement on commercial motor vehicle drivers is not only a major intrusion of their personal privacy, but will hamper their ability to quickly and efficiently deliver emergency supplies to your state and many others.

We are also deeply concerned by the lack clarity about how the information contained in a travel declaration form will be used and what steps are being taken to ensure its security. In fact, we believe these factors will ultimately discourage truckers from entering Utah entirely, which will affect your state’s ability to continue receiving critical freight, including medical supplies, food and other vital materials. It will also likely limit local producers’ ability to ship freight to other areas of the country at a time when many are struggling to stay in business.

On April 10, Herbert issued a new executive order replacing the first that exempts truckers, commercial airline workers, law enforcement, members of the U.S. military, and first responders, from requirements to fill out the travel declaration.