Coronavirus is spreading. Here’s how truck stops are responding.

As COVID-19 cases spread throughout the U.S., the nation’s truck stops are responding with major policy changes.

Here’s What Drivers Are Seeing

As the Coronavirus pandemic disrupts nearly every phase of life for Americans, it is dramatically changing the truck stop experience for many drivers as well. As the Coronavirus pandemic disrupts nearly every phase of life for Americans, it is dramatically changing the truck stop experience for many drivers as well.

(Please click here for a state-by-state list of restaurant restrictions as these apply to truck stop restaurants as well.)

CDLLife asked drivers to share the changes they’ve experienced at truck stops since the COVID-19 crisis began. Here’s what drivers had to say.

Haven’t been effected by any yet however I hear most our closing buffets. Some will be closing all restaurants at 9 pm and only carry out will be available. Which will be a real pain for most drivers. – V Nale

Interaction between drivers and shipping personnel is restricted. I can no longer access public restroom facilities on sites. Many shipping staff are now working from home, adding strain on those still on site when many trucks arrive simultaneously. – Malcolm Macm

Showers have been closed at some locations, or the wait time is extended to accommodate a proper cleaning of the facilities. – Anonymous

Some restrooms have been manned to prevent too many drivers from entering at the same time. – Ellis Cogley

Stopped allowing refillable mugs, closed down sit in restaurants. Ran out of toilet paper for their own rest rooms. – Tracee Francway

Closing down drivers rooms, telling ya go back to trucks – Regina Smith

I have seen napkins straws and cup lids etc. Moved behind the counters and you had to ask for them. Food places closing in some areas of the country with store shelves cleared. -Wayne Roark

No more than 25 people at a time in the truck stops. – James Pillsbury

Ate in a truck stop restaurant in Boise area last week for breakfast. – Steve Foster

No more buffets, soup and salad bars for the time being. Menu items only. Any restaurant franchises having you actually get another cup for any refills. – Paul Crowe

Closing restaurants or take out only. No more refills for travel mugs and cups at truck stops, staff doing an even worse job of cleaning showers and restrooms because THEY are scared to get sick. Limiting shower towels to 1 with no wash cloth and providing paper mats instead of a towel to put outside the shower. Restaurants giving plastic silverware and styrofoam cups instead of real real silverware or cups. – Anonymous

I got an email from TA saying that starting this Monday they are shutting down all the buffets to take precautionary measures. Other than that nothing has changed. It’s business as usual. – Ralph Daer

No refill cups (use new cup to refill) remove bulk condiments. Remove paper towels from bathroom. Extra cleaning. Flyers. – Jenn Eury

One truck stop chain(Pilot/FJ), asking drivers to fill in their paper cup for coffee or cold drink before pouring in their own flasks and toss paper cups away. Unsure, how it’ll help virus spread. On other hands, Restrooms and showers just as mediocre as ever before. – Ali Athar

Some are restricting the fountain drinks. Plus have to get a new cup for refills. Be nice if they could maybe make coffee. Ohh wait that’s everyday lol – Louise Cook

Love’s truck stops will not allow you to use your thermos or your own coffee mugs to get refills. You have to purchase a cup of coffee and then you can pour it in your thermos or coffee mug. – Jose Vazquez

Here’s What Truck Stops Are Saying

TravelCenters of America

One of the most notable changes you’ll encounter if you stop at a TA is that starting Monday, March 16, you won’t be able to enjoy your usual buffet, soup, or salad bar.

From TA:

Beginning Monday, March 16, we will temporarily suspend our buffets, soup and salad bar offerings. However, our restaurants will remain open as state and local governments allow (see below for current state updates) and all items on our menus will be available both in the restaurant and as to-go orders. Grab-and-go options are still available at sites.

We strongly believe this action is essential for your safety and the safety of all our team members, and we are extremely grateful for your understanding during this time.

Additionally, it is important to note that we have taken extra precautions and measures with our already strict cleaning protocols for sanitation. We are increasing our cleaning frequency and continue to use best-in-class, food-safe cleaners to disinfect and sanitize common touch points within the restaurants. These include our tables, menus, chairs, booths, counters, and all dishes, utensils and cooking surfaces.”

TA also says that they have implemented new sanitation protocols for commonly touched surfaces. The company has also worked to highlight good hygiene practices for employees.

Pilot Flying J

From the Pilot Flying J team:

All of our stores are open – including fuel islands, showers and restrooms.

Our number one priority is protecting the safety of our team members and guests. We developed a response task force back in February to monitor COVID-19 (coronavirus) and have been meeting daily to monitor and update our plans to best respond to the rapidly changing situation.

Below are key updates:

  • We are currently not experiencing any fuel supply issues at this time.
  • Our showers are open, and we are cleaning each shower after each use with degreaser, disinfectant and floor cleaner.
  • We are closing all self-serve food. 
  • In locations where dining seating is still allowed, we are cleaning food contact surfaces using food grade sanitizer.
  • Gaming rooms will be restricted to three participants at a time. 
  • We are continuing to frequently clean our restrooms and commonly used areas with disinfectant.
  • We implemented a fresh cup policy for all refills on Friday March 13, 2020. If a guest would like to use their own mug, we’re asking them to use a new cup to transfer their coffee or a fountain drink from the machine into their own mug. They will only be charged the refill price.
  • Unless desired, Drivers do not need to bring their own towels for a shower. We are cleaning guest towels separately from service towels after each use.
  • We are currently evaluating keeping our driver lounges open.  We strongly encourage drivers use social distancing while in our lounges.  We will keep you posted as circumstances change.
  • Team Members are frequently washing their hands with soap and water. We also have hand sanitizer available for both team member and guest usage.
  • Team members showing any symptoms of illness are required to stay home.

Now, more than ever, it is important that we support each other and work together to overcome challenging times. We will continue to monitor and evaluate additional measures to best support you, your drivers and our team members.

Love’s Travel Stops

You can read a statement from Love’s spokesperson
Caitlin Campbell below.

We have always been committed to providing safe, clean and well-maintained stops that help get our drivers back on the road quickly, and we’ll continue to make that our priority.

In response to COVID-19, Love’s developed a task force that’s focused on monitoring the situation and providing education, guidance and resources to our store employees. The health and safety of our customers and team members is vitally important to us and because of this, we’ve put protocols in place so that we can maintain regular business when possible and keep our customers safe.

We’ve increased cleaning and disinfecting efforts at our locations and increased focus on hand washing for customers and employees by placing additional hand sanitizing stations at our locations. Additionally, we’ve removed self-serve condiment stations and are offering pre-packaged condiments. We are also asking customers to use a new Love’s cup to get a drink or refill. Customers can fill their personal cup/mug with a new, disposable Love’s cup and My Love Rewards members can still use a refill credit with a new disposable cup.

We currently don’t have any store closures related to COVID-19, but based on developing state and local laws, and out of an abundance of caution, restaurants are carry-out or drive-through only starting at 11 p.m. tonight. Showers are open to customers at this time.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local health officials, and will make changes as needed for the health and safety of our customers and employees.

For the most up-to-date information from Love’s on COVID-19, please click here.

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