THE Queensland government has extended laws that it introduced during COVID-19, meaning supermarkets across the state and essential businesses will be able to continue re-stocking their shelves 24-hours a day.
Treasurer and infrastructure minister Cameron Dick said the legislative changes now would be in place until 31 October 2020.
“These temporary laws were set to expire 20 June, but I’ve extended the period until the end of October,” Mr Dick said.
“Many items in high demand during the initial stages of the pandemic like toilet paper and pasta are now readily available on shelves again, however, we want this extra distribution of stock to continue, to support our economic recovery.
“Thanks to our incredible local manufacturers and food processors supplies have kept flowing throughout this crisis, and we need to keep getting those products into our stores and the hands of Queenslanders.”
The Australian Logistics Council has welcomed the move saying it offers certainty for freight operators and their customers.
ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said, “Queensland was the first state to take action to suspend curfews in March this year, and today’s announcement is a further welcome display of leadership in this area.
“Although the instances of panic buying we witnessed in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic have subsided, it is still essential that freight operators and retailers retain the flexibility they need to keep supply chains flowing and allow them meet demand patterns and consumer preferences that have been altered as a result of the COVID-19 experience.”
He said the increased demand for home delivery of essential items including groceries is likely to endure beyond COVID-19.
“It’s vital that logistics operators and their customers have the capacity and operational flexibility they require to efficiently schedule deliveries and use the freight network to meet this growth in demand for delivery services,” Mr Coningham said.
Mr Dick said the laws don’t change trading hours, they simply ensure the additional loading and re-stocking required right now can take place.
By making existing operating restrictions more flexible for distribution centres, supermarkets and essential stores like chemists, Queensland is better placed to respond to future pandemics and severe weather events.
“New laws passed in March allow the planning minister to remove constraints for essential businesses during times of public health emergencies or natural disasters,” he said.
“By giving suppliers and stores the ability to re-stock around the clock when needed, it’s going to make it easier for us to stay in front of large-scale challenges like COVID-19.”
The extension also applies to temporary use licences, which give businesses the ability to adapt during the pandemic without needing to secure planning approvals or changes to planning approvals.
Twenty-eight temporary use licences have been granted in Queensland since March to help with supply or service needs, for example brewers producing hand sanitiser and childcare centres increasing numbers to accommodate more children.