NSW supermarkets and pharmacies can now stay open 24 hours a day to assure consumers of access to food and medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.
“These orders cut red tape so we can move quickly and decisively to ensure the health, well being and safety of our community during this time. The focus of our first order is giving people the flexibility to visit their local supermarket, pharmacy or corner store at any time of day if those retail premises choose to operate for extended hours,” Planning minister Rob Stokes said in a statement on Wednesday.
Stokes said the move will give home-based businesses greater flexibility.
“For those businesses operating out of home, we are facilitating more flexible operating hours and increasing the number of people working together from two to five, providing they can abide by the social distancing rules. This is important as more and more people work from home and need flexible working arrangements.”
Some of the nation’s big supermarkets, including Aldi and Woolworths have reduced their trading hours of late to allow staff to restock shelves and thoroughly clean stores.
In addition, Woolworths cut trading hours back to 11am to 6pm at 41 stores across to scale up grocery deliveries for vulnerable consumers amid chaos in stores as a result of COVID-19 panic buying.
The National Retail Association (NRA) applauded the move by the NSW government to allow 24 hour trade and has urged others states to follow suit.
“Cutting red tape and offering greater flexibility on trading hours will enable supermarkets across New South Wales to better supply consumers during this period of upheaval. 24-hour trading will assist by spreading out the time available to shoppers to buy groceries and provide supermarkets with greater freedom around special shopping periods for the elderly and those operating in essential services,” NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said in a statement.
“This measure does not force supermarkets to open 24 hours a day, rather it provides the maximum amount of flexibility to ensure that shelves stay stocked and shoppers can get what they need.”
NSW Government extends emergency dispensing for pharmacists
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has thanked the NSW Government for extending the special authority for emergency supply of medication without a prescription.
Patients can receive a maximum PBS quantity or pack size until 30 September 2020 without a prescription if the pharmacist sees there is an immediate need. The medication must have been prescribed before and required for continuous treatment or maintenance.
“PSA fully supports and thanks the NSW Government for this very sensible approach which will reduce the concerns of those in the community who may find it hard to access medicines in this challenging environment,” PSA NSW president professor Peter Carroll said.
“This will enable patients to still have ongoing access to their regular medicines in the event that they are not able to see their doctor for a prescription or must self-isolate.”
PSA called on the NSW Government to allow the continuation of emergency dispensing since it was implemented during the bushfire crisis.