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Supermarkets: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 30169, tabled on 16 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the Government’s performance in disseminating information on covid-19 on levels of stockpiling from supermarkets by the general public.

Answered on

25 March 2020

The Government is in regular contact with the food industry on the response to coronavirus, building on our well-established links with the industry to manage disruption. The industry is adapting quickly to what have been unprecedented changes in consumer demands, and food supply into and within the UK remains resilient.

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.