No 10 ‘very concerned’ about food shortages but public warned ‘don’t panic buy’ as Pingdemic cripples Britain

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SHOPPERS are today being urged not to panic buy as the pingdemic cripples Britain – and a top minister admits he is “very concerned”.

Alarming images of empty aisles have spooked shoppers and fanned fears of a fresh wave of panic-buying.

A shopper crams his trolley with toilet roll and water in London
Kwasi Kwarteng told people not to panic in the face of bare supermarket shelves
Alarming images of empty shelves have spooked shoppers

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 in the food and drink businesses are self-isolating, the industry group has said.

Supermarkets have begged customers not to clear out aisles as it could leave others with nothing.

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.

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.”

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

Environment Secretary George Eustice also tried to play down the shortages, stressing the heatwave has fuelled demand for some goods.

🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates

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.”

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.

A list of critical sectors to be exempt from pingdemic isolation rules will be published later today.

George Eustice said some items like bottled water were in demand amid the heatwave

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