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COVID-19: States Ditch Supermarket Truck Curfews

woolworths sold out

More states have joined Queensland in lifting curfews on delivery trucks to ensure supermarkets have consistent stock supply and to curb panic buying.

Announced this morning, the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment (COVID-19 Response) 2020 ensures that supermarkets can receive deliveries and stock shelves outside regular business hours, overriding local council rules. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the new regulations come into effect immediately and will last until the end of the COVID-19 crisis.

“We need to make sure these products can move from factories to shelves as quickly as possible. We are moving quickly so truck drivers can make deliveries to supermarkets around the clock.

“It is important that people now stop unnecessary panic buying,” she said.

According to Planning Minister Rob Stokes, the new measures ensure that truck deliveries will be able to service communities as much as possible.

“Councils and retailers have been working well together to allow greater flexibility in delivery hours, and this change gives everyone the certainty we need to ensure these deliveries can continue.

“The SEPP makes clear that truck deliveries are able to supply shops and retailers with essential goods at all times.”

Victoria has taken similar measures to ditch curfews, while South Australia has given supermarkets the option to trade 24 hours on weekdays. SA Treasurer Rob Lucas has called this an unprecedented move that will help South Australians practice social distancing.

“While we don’t expect all supermarkets to take up the option of 24-hour trading, extended hours will also assist with supply of grocery stock and give supermarkets greater flexibility in relation to designated shopping times for certain sections of the community, like they’ve done with the elderly, if they choose.

“We expect this exemption will also support local jobs, with the potential for more shifts for those employees who’d like to work additional hours over the next few weeks,” he said.

There is as yet no word on whether Western Australia, Tasmania, or the Territories will follow suit; however, Mark Coulton, federal minister for local government, told ChannelNews that the Federal Government is working with states and territories to amend planning laws around curfews and that he is pleased local governments are being flexible.

“I am also pleased that State and Territory governments have been looking at this issue and I am aware many already have acted to amend laws to allow restocking around the clock.

“I am working with councils to manage the impacts of the COVID-19 on local businesses, citizens and communities. As the grassroots level of Government, councils will face challenges and it is important all three levels of Government – Federal, State and Local – work together as we change the way we live our lives to sensibly manage the spread of COVID-19,” he said, adding that the Government is looking to ensure businesses such as pharmacists and supermarkets can restock 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Jason Clare, federal Labor spokesman for local government, has urged curfews be lifted nationwide.

“To respond to the current surge in demand, expected to last for at least several weeks, it is important that local governments’ temporarily lift these curfews. Importantly, this will help reduce panic buying and hoarding as people will regain confidence that all they need is available in the supermarket.

“I have spoken directly to Woolworths and Coles and they view this as a genuine limitation to their ability to restock in many local government areas. It is important that all levels of government – federal, state and local – all act together to stop panic buying and restore confidence,” he said.

Queensland has already moved to lift curfews.

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