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Coles Receives 36,000 Job Applications In One Day During Coronavirus Crisis

After announcing a huge recruitment push, Coles received 36,000 job applications in one day, in what one politician described as a sign of the huge economic challenge the country faces during the coronavirus outbreak.

The plight of supermarkets has been highlighted in recent weeks as Australians stock up amid COVID-19 uncertainty, putting unprecedented -- and unnecessary -- demand on stores to restock.

Fights over toilet paper have emerged as have heart-warming moments of shoppers passing on groceries to the elderly and disadvantaged, as shelves nationwide are being stripped bare.

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Doors will shut at major supermarkets at 8pm every night, with staff needing more time to restock shelves and clean stores to deal with the surge in demand for products.

As stricter measures come into force, Coles also announced it is recruiting 5,000 casual workers "to help us continue to offer the best possible service to customers during this busy time".

"This will allow us to serve more customers and replenish shelves faster, while offering employment opportunities for Australians working in other industries impacted by COVID-19," Coles said on Monday.

The next day, interest came flooding in.

A Coles spokesperson confirmed to 10 daily the chain received 36,000 job applications on Tuesday alone. That's about 45 times its average daily intake of 800 applications.

Speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, Labor MP Jason Clare said the huge uptake points to the size and scale of the country's economic challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clare said he expects applications would be coming from those working in the tourism or hospitality sectors which have been among the hardest hit.

"They’re the sort of people that would ordinarily work at the bars and coffee shops that I  walked past to get to this interview that are shut," Clare said.

People are looking for a safe haven ... for a place where they know there is going to be a job tomorrow.

Coles said casuals will have their inductions fast-tracked to boost numbers of staff on shop floors across the country.

Clare also wants to see local councils immediately lift truck delivery curfews that are restricting the ability of supermarkets to restock.

"Many councils have curfews on truck delivery times. These restrictions are important to minimise noise and disruption to local residents," the MP said.

"To respond to the current surge in demand, expected to last for at least several weeks, it is important that local governments' temporarily lift these curfews."

Clare said the practical measure would help to restore public confidence and reduce panic buying.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Queensland government said it would be changing its planning laws to allow loading docks and distribution centres to operate around the clock, in a bid to keep up with the unprecedented demand.

Clare also echoed earlier comments from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking Australian shoppers to be "calm and kind".

Shelves stripped of pasta at this Woolworths in Western Sydney. Image: Supplied

Earlier on Wednesday, the PM called out those who were emptying supermarket shelves.

"Stop hoarding. I can't be more blunt about it. Stop it," the PM said at a press conference.

"It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis. That is not who we are as a people. It is not necessary."

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Scott Morrison has blasted supermarket hoarding during the coronavirus outbreak, calling out "ridiculous" behaviour from people bulk-buying essentials.