Families could face food rationing as minister vows action if shoppers continue to panic-buy

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BRITS will have enough food and ministers stand ready to stop irresponsible people from stockpiling, Matt Hancock said today.

The Health Secretary insisted that Britain will have enough food to keep going through the coronavirus crisis.

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panic buying Tesco
Shoppers left a ‘staggering’ trail of destruction in a north London Tesco
Wood Green, London, UK. 14th March 2020. Coronavirus: people queue to buy toilet paper at a Savers store in Wood Green, north London. Credit: Matthew Chattle/Alamy Live News
People queue to buy toilet paper outside a Savers store in Wood Green
Empty pasta shelves at a Tesco Extra in Worthing, West Sussex

He urged people to “behave responsibly” and stop taking home as many goods as they could – as it was stopping others from getting vital access.

The UK death toll yesterday shot up from 11 to 21 and there are 1,140 positive cases for the disease.

The Health Secretary described the situation as “one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced in a generation” and measures would “disrupt the ordinary lives of almost everybody in the country.”

But he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “We are confident [people will have enough food].

“We will work with supermarkets to make sure that people get enough.”

He pleaded with the public: “People have got to behave responsibly.

“The supermarkets are right to call on people to be responsible and consider the impact that their stocking up might have on others.

“We stand ready to take further measures if necessary.”

An emergency COBRA will be held again tomorrow, where more measures will be considered.

And the Environment Secretary will meet with supermarkets to discuss their response.

Rationing goods could be on the table if the situation gets worse.

The news comes as:

  • Hancock confirmed that elderly people would be told to stay inside “in weeks” as the crisis continues
  • The Health Secretary couldn’t guarantee that everyone who needs a ventilator will get one – as the PM asked Rolls Royce and JCB to build more
  • The Queen has quit Buckingham Palace over coronavirus and has been whisked off to Windsor castle

Bosses of all the major retailers including Sainsbury’s, Iceland and Tesco took out huge adverts in national papers to urge people to only take what they need.

“There is enough for everyone if we all work together,” they wrote today as they begged the nation to help them.

Some supermarkets have already been limiting a certain number of goods per person to try and keep items on the shelves.

It comes after stores across the country were pictured with their shelves completely empty.

Rice, pasta, tinned goods and toilet roll is all in short supply as Brits prepare for time at home.

One shopper claimed he was mugged for his loo roll after leaving shops yesterday, the MailOnline reported.

Shops have already started begging people to stop panic buying or stock will run out.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons reported empty shelves. A Costco outlet in Chingford, North East London, was forced to shut and call police after a stampede.

Online sales also went into meltdown, with delivery slots filled until April.

Ocado was forced to block orders from new customers.

Older folk unfamiliar with stocking up online and less able to join the queues were most at risk, it was said.

Food retail expert Clive Black warned: “Online will struggle to replicate the supply from supermarkets.

“There aren’t enough store pickers, delivery vans or capacity. Tesco has the biggest share of the online food market, with 40 per cent, but clearly there’s not enough slots.” Another senior retail source said: “Panic buying is the biggest problem, because it warps stock control.”

Shoppers have been stripping shelves of goods

Loo roll is in short supply

The death toll in the UK has reached 21
Brits will have enough food, the Health Secretary said today

He added: “Normal buying behaviour isn’t one person clearing an aisle of toilet roll. There isn’t an issue with supply.”

Aside from supermarkets, millions Brits chose to stay home yesterday leaving town and city centres ghostly quiet and Tube stations almost empty.

Shoppers are stripping shelves

 

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