Australia’s Queensland Government is set to introduce urgent reforms to ensure supermarkets are sufficiently stocked up to deal with unprecedented demand for groceries during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

With the new laws in place, the government will be able to address planning conditions that currently restrict the operating hours of loading docks and distribution centres supplying supermarkets.

Expected to come into effect soon, these changes will allow them to operate 24 hours a day when necessary.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “We’ve seen unprecedented demand for groceries like non-perishable food, toilet paper and other essentials.

“We are not running out of products. But we need to make these changes to get products on the shelves as quickly as possible.

“The message is clear – you do not need to panic buy or unnecessarily stockpile products. Our mighty Queensland manufacturers and food processors are keeping supplies flowing.”

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As part of the reforms, Queensland’s Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) will establish a new Essential Goods Supply Committee.

By working with retailers, manufacturers, meat and food processors, essential goods manufacturers, transport and logistics companies, wholesalers and unions, the committee will ensure essential supply chains keep flowing during an emergency.

It will also dismiss non-essential activities, including some workshops and information events, to focus on supporting business and industry to address the impact of Covid-19.

The federal government is also set to amend the Planning Act to support local governments in case they are affected by staff shortages.