The Government has introduced new measures on night-time deliveries to supermarkets and other food retailers to help them support coronavirus preparations.
Introduced as consumers stock-pile hygiene and some long-life items – resulting in some supermarkets to having to limit the number of essential items customers can buy at once – the new measures from Defra temporarily relax the enforcement of restrictions on overnight deliveries, enabling food retailers to increase the frequency of drop-offs to their stores and move stocks more quickly to deal with product shortages.
A call last week between the Environment Secretary George Eustice and leading supermarkets saw industry outline how a relaxation of curfews would help retailers respond to the increased consumer demand for some products.
George Eustice said: “We have listened to our leading supermarkets and representatives from across the industry, and we are taking action to support their preparations. By allowing night time deliveries to our supermarkets and food retailers we can free them up to move their stocks more quickly from their warehouses to their shelves.
“Our retailers have well-established contingency plans in place and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need. I will continue to work closely with them over the coming days and weeks on this”
The Government is also looking closely at measures to ensure supply chains continue to function as normal. This could see the Transport Secretary implement existing rules that allow for extensions on drivers’ hours to help respond to any shortage of delivery drivers.
However, drivers would still be required to take 45-minute breaks after 4.5 hours of driving. The Government said it would also work closely with employers on any use of these rules to make sure the safety of drivers and other road users is protected.
The new temporary measure on night-time deliveries has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which said it was a “practical and sensible approach to support retailers during this period of unprecedented demand for basic items.
Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at the FTA, added: “FTA has been urging government to enable restrictions to be relaxed on night-time deliveries for several years; we hope this temporary measure will be soon be considered for permanency. Retiming deliveries to quieter periods has the potential to reduce road congestion while delivering a number of social benefits, such as improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and increased road safety during the busiest periods of the day. FTA has worked with the Noise Abatement Society and Transport for London to develop measures to support the retiming of deliveries to out of peak hours and the shoulders of the day and overnight whilst not disturbing residents. We hope the Government will learn lessons from this temporary measure and consider ways to support local authorities in permanently relaxing delivery restrictions to allow for more innovative, flexible solutions to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”