Asda (2)

Supermarkets will now be allowed to cooperate in their efforts to feed shelves stocked amid the outbreak of Coronavirus.

Late on Thursday, Environment Secretary George Eustice approved a move to relax competition regulations which will allow retailers to share distribution depots, delivery vans, data and staff to meet the rising demand. It comes after a week's worth of discussions between government and retailers.

The government will also lift the plastic bag charge temporarily for home deliveries to help supermarkets avoid cross-contamination in delivery crates.

Mr Eustice said: "We’ve listened to the powerful arguments of our leading supermarkets and will do whatever it takes to help them feed the nation.

“By relaxing elements of competition laws temporarily, our retailers can work together on their contingency plans and share the resources they need with each other during these unprecedented circumstances."

Last week, Defra said it was also discussing extending delivery hours for supermarkets to help keep stock levels as high as possible. The Department for Transport has also confirmed that restrictions would be eased on the number of hours delivery drivers can work in one stint.