© Reuters. File photo: On March 15, 2020, in London, UK, as the number of global coronavirus cases continues to increase, a man stands next to an empty shelf in a supermarket. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Authors: Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey
LONDON (Reuters)-UK supermarkets, wholesalers and transporters are working to ensure a stable supply of food and fuel after the official health app told hundreds of thousands of workers to quarantine after contact with COVID-19 infected people.
In the past month, the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has generally risen, with more than 44,000 cases recorded on Wednesday.
The front page of British newspapers published pictures of empty shelves in supermarkets. A Reuters reporter said that although there is a shortage of bottled water, soft drinks, and some salads and meat products, food can be found everywhere in London shops.
“We are very worried about this situation,” Minister of Commerce Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky TV when asked about reports of vacant supermarket shelves in certain areas. “We are monitoring the situation.”
He said he did not acknowledge Sky’s description of the “naked” supermarket shelves.
Sainsbury’s, the UK’s second-largest supermarket group, said that customers can usually find the products they want, but it may not be every brand.
“We are working hard to ensure that customers can find what they need,” a Sainsbury spokesperson said.
“Although we may not always have the exact products that customers are looking for in every store, a large number of products are shipped to the store every day, and our colleagues are focused on getting them on the shelves as quickly as possible.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has bet that he can reopen the English economy because so many people have been vaccinated, but this “epidemic” has caused contact tracing apps to tell people to quarantine for 10 days.
The consequent sharp reduction in staffing has caused chaos in various fields such as food supply, transportation, supermarkets, hotels, manufacturing, and media. To avoid interruptions, many people simply delete the application from their phones.
British ministers said that the app played an important role in fighting the spread of the virus and allowed some workers in key roles to continue working.
The country has the seventh-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world and is expected to have a record number of new infections after the restrictions are lifted in the UK on July 19, which Johnson described as “Freedom Day”.
However, a rapid vaccination program has allowed 87% of adults to receive one dose of the vaccine, and more than 68% of adults receive two doses of the vaccine. This seems to weaken the link between infection and death, and the number of deaths per day remains relatively low. low.
On the edge
Many companies said that the situation is becoming severe.
A meat industry agency said on Wednesday that the UK’s food supply chain is “on the brink of failure” due to COVID-19-related absences exacerbating severe labor shortages.
The supermarket group Iceland said it has closed some stores due to staff shortages.
“We have a structural problem with (shortage) of HGV drivers due to various reasons, but of course the epidemic has made the situation worse,” said Managing Director Richard Walker Independent television (Lang:). “We are starting to see some usability issues.”
Andrew Oppi, director of food and sustainability, the industry lobby group of the British Retail Association, said the government needs to act quickly.
“Retail industry workers and suppliers have played a vital role in this pandemic. As long as they have received dual vaccines or tested negative for COVID, they should be allowed to work to ensure public access to food and other commodities. Will not be disturbed,” he said.
BP (NYSE:) stated that it had to temporarily close a few stations due to lack of fuel, and the COVID-19 quarantine exacerbated the shortage of HGV drivers.