Coronavirus: Supermarket delivery restrictions eased by Antrim and Newtownabbey Council
Antrim and Newtownabbey’s Planning Committee has unanimously agreed to remove restrictions on supermarket deliveries in the borough.
The committee also agreed to write to supermarkets requesting dedicated opening times for older residents, at a meeting in Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey, on Monday evening.
The moves come as panic buying amid coronavirus fears has been leaving supermarket shelves stripped of some non-perishable foodstuffs and toilet rolls.
On Wednesday, supermarket chain Asda announced that “as of 18th March, customers will only be able to buy up to three of any product across all food items, toiletries and cleaning products, so that all of our customers in stores and online have access to the products they and their families need”.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Glengormley DUP Alderman Philip Brett said: “As chairman of the planning committee, I am determined to do all I can to support local businesses during these difficult times.
“These measures will allow supermarkets to replenish their stocks at a much faster rate and it is hoped the additional flexibility for manufacturers’ opening times will help in our battle against the virus.”
Mr Brett said the council will also allow manufacturers and other enterprises working on combating Covid-19 to operate outside of normal hours.
He added: “The council stands ready to make other decisions that will help local residents.”
The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, DUP Ald John Smyth said: “We also need to show calm and avoid panic buying. I know retailers both large and small across our borough are making every effort to keep shelves stocked, but panic buying only heightens fear, and there is simply no need for it.”
Meanwhile, the local authority says it is monitoring the coronavirus situation on a daily basis.
A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Council said: “The council is pro-actively planning for a number of contingency measures that may be required.”
Yesterday evening, (Wednesday), the borough council closed all leisure, sports and cultural facilities to the public in response to Covid-19.
All events, exhibitions and events are also cancelled.
Antrim Civic Centre and Mossley Mill remain open to the public as well as community centres and pavilions.
The spokesperson stated: “The decision has been made following the latest expert advice from the government, Public Health Agency and Department for Health regarding increasing efforts to curb the spread of the virus.”
Statutory services including registration of births, deaths and marriages, environmental health, planning, building control, parks and cemeteries and waste collection services will continue.
The mayor commented: “This is a challenging and fast-moving state of affairs that requires careful decision-making to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our residents, colleagues and families are protected at all times.
“The public must heed the advice of the experts and ensure they take all the essential measures to guard their safety and that of others, especially those more vulnerable during these difficult times.
“Both civic centres remain open, council’s statutory services will continue, our staff will be reporting for work and our parks and recycling centres remain open.
“I would like to thank the council staff working to maintain essential services, and those at the frontline of our health service or caring for others.
“I would urge residents across the borough to remain calm and to pull together so we can meet these challenges as a united and resilient community.”
Glengormley SDLP Cllr Noreen McClelland added: “We are facing unprecedented times and any decisions taken by the council are to ensure the safety of our staff and residents.
“The closure of our leisure centres and theatres will undoubtedly have an effect on people. However, at the present time, people will understand and be aware that their safety is our priority.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.