// Supermarkets will now work together to keep shelves stocked, shops open & delivery vans running
// The government will relax competition laws from next week
// Ministers have relaxed rules around drivers’ hours so retailers can deliver more food to stores
UK grocers have been given the green light to work together to keep shelves stocked, shops open and delivery vans running as the coronavirus pendemic worsens.
The government said it would relax competition laws from next week to allow supermarkets to cooperate in a bid to feed the nation as many self-isolate.
In a meeting with supermarket bosses and food industry chiefs on Thursday, Environment Secretary George Eustice confirmed some elements of legislation would be temporarily waived.
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Following his meeting with supermarket bosses, Eustice said the government would “do whatever it takes to help them feed the nation”.
The government said that with this initiative, retailers will be able to share data with each other on stock levels, cooperate to keep shops open, or share distribution depots and delivery vans.
Moreover, ministers have relaxed rules around drivers’ hours so retailers can deliver more food to stores, and will suspend the 5p plastic bag charge for online purchases to speed up deliveries.
Many grocers such as Tesco, Waitrose and M&S Food are rationing their items to two or three products per person as a result of consumers panic-buying.
Most grocers are also opening an hour earlier just to serve the elderly and those who are vulnerable to the outbreak.
From Friday, supermarket delivery drivers will see their daily driving time limit increased from 10 hours to 11 hours.