Emergency service workers and medical personnel will be given priority at all checkouts and queues in any Foodstuffs supermarket starting today.

Foodstuffs owns the New World, Pak'nSave, Four Square and Raeward Fresh stores around New Zealand.

Chris Quin, CEO of Foodstuffs North Island, said any emergency service worker or medical professional wearing their uniform or carrying DHB, medical centre or proper identification would be given priority to enter the store if there was a queue and would be allowed to go through the checkout line first.

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The move comes after shoppers faced lengthy queues in the lead up to nationwide lockdown and state of emergency announced earlier this week.

Supplies had been hit by people stocking up, leading to a national campaign - Shop Normally - being used by supermarkets and also Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Queues at supermarkets around the country had snaked around car parks, with security and even police called into help control the crowds.

In some cases staff have not only been verbally abused, but also physically.

Security at Countdown Te Rapa, Hamilton, sanitises trollies of shoppers queued up on Wednesday. Photo / Mike Scott
Security at Countdown Te Rapa, Hamilton, sanitises trollies of shoppers queued up on Wednesday. Photo / Mike Scott

Quin said they realised it would be hard for emergency services and medical personnel to do their shop at a fixed time every day.

"Our goal is to provide New Zealand's much needed essential personnel with the opportunity to do their shop whenever they need to and not have to wait in any line," he said.

"They are making an incredible commitment to keep us safe as we unite to fight against Covid-19 and we are incredibly grateful for their service."

The offer applies to all military, Civil Defence, police, fire and emergency, St John ambulance, and medical professionals, including DHB personnel, doctors and nurses.

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Steve Anderson, CEO of Foodstuffs South Island, said emergency services and medical teams were critical in helping New Zealanders stay safe and well.

"We're proud to be able to do our bit to make their lives easier when we know they'll be working long and stressful hours. They deserve priority access all day every day, and our essential working staff look forward to serving them."