Supermarkets: Coronavirus

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th March 2020.

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Photo of Catherine West Catherine West Labour, Hornsey and Wood Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure carers are able to get the food that they need in supermarkets.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government has well-established ways of working with the food industry during disruption to supply situations. Our retailers already have highly resilient supply chains and they are working around the clock to ensure people have the food and products they need. Industry has adapted quickly to these changes in demands, and we welcome the actions they are taking to support groups including NHS staff and the elderly.

To help supermarkets, the Government has already introduced new measures to keep food supply flowing. We have temporarily relaxed elements of competition law to enable supermarkets to work more closely together to ensure people can access the products they need. Food retailers will now be able to share data on their stock levels, cooperate to keep stores open and share staff, distribution depots and delivery vehicles. This will help keep shops open and staffed and better able to meet high demand. Guidance has been issued to local authorities to show flexibility to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets to ensure shelves can be replenished more quickly. The Transport Secretary has also announced a temporary and limited relaxation of the drivers’ hours rules so that more goods can be delivered to every store every day.

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