Fears of disruptions to national food supply chains have been somewhat eased following an agreement between major supermarkets and the Victorian government.
Under the six-week long stage four restrictions introduced into the state this week, businesses must reduce the number of staff working at one time. The operating conditions initially reduced the capacity of supermarket distribution centres by 33%, which would have hindered production.
Following consultations with the federal government and retailers, Premier Daniel Andrews has granted approval for major players Coles, Woolworths, ALDI, Costco, Metcash, Drakes and other independents to instead cut staff in other areas of their business to meet reduction quotas. These can instead be spread between supermarkets, call centres areas where employees can work remotely.
The new operating conditions were also postponed from midnight tonight until midnight Sunday to give retailers more time to put these measures in place.
Food production plants, such as dairy, fruit, vegetable and meat plants will also have to scale back operations to reduce staff numbers.
The hard lockdowns also sparked a return of panic buying within Melbourne, with photos circulating on social media this week showing empty supermarket shelves, despite assurances from authorities there is no risk of food shortages.
Premier Andrews on Monday urged shoppers not to hoard stock.
“You may not be able to buy every single item that you want in the quantities you normally would, but people will have everything they need,” he said during a press conference.
“Supermarkets as well as grocery stores, the local fruit and veg, the local butcher, the baker, all of those shops, they will remain open.”