DOWNING Street has insisted there is enough food for everyone – and begged shoppers not to panic buy.
Pingdemic chaos has left bosses grappling with staffing crises and warning of possible shortages, as customers are faced with empty shelves.Pingdemic chaos has left bosses grappling with staffing crises and warning of possible shortages, as customers are faced with empty shelves[/caption] Alarming images of empty shelves have spooked shoppers[/caption]
Hundreds of thousands of workers are off isolating after being alerted by the NHS Covid app, bringing businesses to their knees with staffing crises.
Up to a quarter of staff at some manufacturers in the food and drink businesses are self-isolating, the industry group has said.
And supermarkets have begged customers not to clear out aisles as it could leave other shoppers with nothing.
But this afternoon a No10 spokesman reassured: “We’re obviously aware of the impact that’s being felt by some industries and we’re obviously working closely with them.
“Specifically on supermarket shelves and food, we have a robust and resilient food supply chain in the UK.”
In pingdemic developments:
- A record 618,903 people in England and Wales were pinged by the app last week
- A list of critical sectors to be exempt from pinging will be revealed later today
- Mr Kwarteng insisted isolation for double-jabbed Brits will end on August 16
- Downing St said brides pinged on their wedding day should isolate
Iceland boss Richard Walker said the cost-cutting store was hiring 2,000 temp workers plug the “exponential rise in pinging”.
While he said dramatic pictures of bare shelves was not “widespread” – he said it was the “Government who should be panicking” as the pingdemic rips.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he was “very concerned” by the images but also begged Brits not to cram their trollies.
The situation is concerning and it’s up and down the supply chainFood and drink boss, Ian Wright
Responding to Mr Walker’s remarks he told BBC Radio 4: “He was right to say shoppers shouldn’t be panicking.
“I don’t quite know what he meant that the Government should be panicking, I’m not panicking.”
Environment Secretary George Eustice also tried to play down the shortages, stressing the heatwave has fuelled demand for some goods.
Speaking in the Commons he said: “The recent hot weather has increased demand for some items, like bottled water, and staff absences have increased but remain lower than seen earlier in the pandemic.
“We are working with colleagues across Government to support businesses in the food supply chain.”
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Labour’s shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard asked why Mr Eustice has not “got a grip” on the situation.
Sainsbury’s said it was grappling with shortages and was scrambling to fix the issue.
Fuel retailer BP said it had closed several sites temporarily because of a shortage of fuel.
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, told the Government to “pull their fingers out”.
He told Sky News: “We need to get this sorted soon, or what will happen is that people will vote with their fingers and turn off the app.”
The Government’s “confusing advice” over whether lorry drivers must isolate when pinged has been blamed.
Road Haulage Association boss Rod Mckenzie said: “We’re in this pickle because the Government says a small number of essential workers are exempt from isolating if they’ve been double-jabbed and test negative, but what is essential?”
A list of critical sectors to be exempt from pingdemic isolation rules will be published later today.
The Government is not publishing a list of essential workers – like it did in the first lockdown – but singling out vital industries.
Mr Kwarteng revealed today: “We’re looking at different sectors, and we will be publishing today the sectors which will be affected.”
In his Freedom Day speech Boris Johnson name-checked a handful of industries in line for exemption, if the workers have been double-jabbed.
They include food and water supply, power supply, medicines, public transport, border force and the armed forces.
Fully vaccinated NHS workers have already been exempt to stop hospitals grinding to a halt.
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A Co-op spokesman said: “We are sorry that we are running low on some products. Like many retailers, we are impacted by some patchy disruption to our deliveries and store operations but we are working closely with our suppliers to get re-stocked quickly.”
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We are working hard to ensure customers can find what they need.
“While we might not always have the exact product a customer is looking for in every store, large quantities of products are being delivered to stores daily and our colleagues are focused on getting them on to the shelves as quickly as they can.”
Tesco confirmed that it had plenty of food and deliveries arriving across the UK every day.Empty shelves in a Lidy in Tottenham earlier today[/caption]
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