Shoppers have been urged not to start panic buying amid empty shelves and supply shortages in Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Lidl stores across the country.
In scenes reminiscent of the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020, shelves across countless supermarkets up and down the country have been sparse, leaving frustrated customers speculating what could possibly be the cause of the issue.
Now shoppers have been warned by industry bosses there could be further more empty shelves because of a collapse in the supply chain.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: “In the next two to three weeks we are facing a collapse of the supply chain meaning even bigger gaps on supermarket shelves.
“We already have hauliers unable to move goods on a daily basis and we’re now facing a perfect storm.
“This is a crisis on a scale we have never seen before in this industry and the government is burying its head in the sand.
“It is not recognising the seriousness.”
A Morrisons spokeswoman told the BBC: “As per the whole of the UK, we are experiencing a rise in cases and close contact notifications.
“We provide guidance and support for colleagues who may need to self-isolate including sick pay and have covid secure controls in place in all our stores to ensure we can continue to operate and keep them open.
“Throughout the whole of the pandemic, we have not been required to close a store.”
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has acknowledged industry-wide problems but said stores are working closely with suppliers so customers can still buy what they need.
But what’s actually causing these shortages?
Well, a large part of the problem can be credited to the ongoing lack of HGV drivers – Tesco recently revealed that the shortage in drivers is resulting in forty-eight tonnes of food waste each week as fresh goods destined for its stores are being left to rot.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates there is currently a shortfall of up to 100,000 lorry drivers in the UK – and as well as this issue, the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit are also being blamed for shortages, The Mirror reports.
The Covid pandemic has seen travel become extremely restricted, with haulage companies saying their European drivers have simply decided not to return to the UK due to the virus and Brexit.
The recent reopening of all shops and hospitality establishments such as nightclubs also means there’s been a sudden demand for certain goods.
Amid all of these issues, the RHA has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take action on the HGV driver shortage.
In response, the government says it has ramped up testing for lorry drivers, is paying for more apprentices and is allowing current drivers to increase their working hours. But, even before Covid, the estimated shortage of drivers was around 60,000.
Other circumstances that have been blamed on causing delays include the earlier blockage of the Suez Canal.
Despite all the issues with supply, customers are being warned not to panic buy.
New details of ‘historic’ four-day bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee have been revealed
Here’s everything we know so far…
New details have been released ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations set to take place next year.
Back in June, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II, ninety-five, will host four-days worth of celebrations to mark her seventieth year on the throne in June 2022.
Details surrounding the celebrations were kept under wraps, though the Palace did confirm that Brits will be treated to a four-day bank holiday across the usual May Bank Holiday, saying the extra days off will ‘provide an opportunity for communities and people to come together and celebrate the historic milestone’.
But now, nearly four months on from the initial announcement, the finer details surrounding the historic occasion have been unveiled.
According to the events organisers, A Gallop Through History, a ‘spectacular’ equestrian display showcasing horses from across the globe will be staged as a ‘personal tribute to our monarchy’. The show is said to feature more than 500 horses and over a thousand dancers and musicians taking the audience on a journey from Elizabeth I to the Queen.
The Queen’s own personal ponies and horses are also expected to feature in the event, with royal fans hoping to even see popular members of the royal family taking part.
Dame Helen Mirren and comic actor Stephen Fry have been involved in publicising the event, which will be staged over four nights in the grounds of Windsor Castle next May, and are in discussions with organisers about taking part in the final show.
Nations from across the Commonwealth and other parts of the globe are also expected to be involved in the show, such as Oman, India, the Caribbean, Canada, France and Norway.
Sir Mike Rake, chairman of the Platinum Jubilee’s advisory board, said: “After seventy years on the throne and particularly poignantly after the dark and troubling times in the last eighteen months, Her Majesty’s leadership, steadiness and unwavering devotion during her reign deserve recognition and celebration.
“In 2022 Her Majesty the Queen will have guided the nation through several decades of change, growth and advancement, like none before them – in times of triumph and also in times of trouble.
“In an age of advancement and adversary, the Queen has remained a constant, committed and courageous presence, therefore we have worthwhile and timely celebration.”
The May Bank Holiday – which usually falls at the end of the month – will be moved to Thursday June 2nd, while an extra Bank Holiday will be added on Friday June 3rd 2022, making it a four-day weekend.
Gary Neville says access to high quality education ‘shouldn’t be dependent on your post code’
‘My reliance on government to do the right thing is lost – that’s my own personal opinion’
Former Manchester United footballer Gary Neville has spoken about the motivation behind his newly launched university scheme.
Sitting down with ITV Granada Reports, Neville explained that his scheme will be aimed at young people between the ages of seventeen and twenty who have been eligible for free school dinners and may never have thought they’d get the opportunity to go to university.
The scheme will offer a free £5,000 support package of education essentials and will help with travel for the three years that they attend university, as well as provide a laptop and unlimited data.
It also offers lunch vouchers for fifty-two weeks of the year and vouchers to buy home essentials.
Speaking about the ongoing poverty that spurred the launch of his scheme, however, Neville said he is ‘ashamed’ to be in a country where families are still forced to choose between heating and eating, and described the government’s recent decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 as ‘ridiculous’.
He said: “As far as I can see those economic problems haven’t ended so I don’t know why the universal credit is being taken away.
“It is a ridiculous decision as this moment in time, just as we’re starting to come out of a pandemic.”
And, speaking on why he felt the need to act in the first place, Neville said all the faith he once had in the government has been lost.
He said: “My reliance on government to do the right thing is lost – that’s my own personal opinion. However what we can do in the private sector, and in other institutions, is do our very best.
“I think that’s what we’re trying to do here is to put packages in place that support young people and give them the option to go to university. I can’t believe I’m saying that because it should be the choice for everybody.
“It shouldn’t be dependent on your post code as to whether you get high quality to education or access to education.”
Mask-wearing on public transport sees huge drop with only 20% of rail passengers still wearing them at train stations
Public transport unions have stressed the importance of face masks in the event of a Covid surge in winter
Mask-wearing on trains and in train stations has seen a massive drop now that it is no longer compulsory, statistics provided by Network Rail have revealed today.
According to the report, only 20% of commuters are continuing to wear their face masks while on trains and in stations, a stark comparison to the 80% figure before restrictions were lifted.
In response to the startling new figure, public transport unions have warned that the government may struggle to get people back to wearing masks if Covid cases surge in the winter.
A government statement said, as per The BBC: “The guidance is clear that people are expected and recommended to wear a mask when they come into contact with people they don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.
“It is open to transport operators to decide if they want to implement their own policies, working within their particular environment.”
A spokesperson for Unite, which represents bus drivers, said that the use of masks has dropped on buses too, saying: “Our members are reporting that mask-wearing on buses is collapsing and has got much worse in recent weeks. In some cases, there are very few passengers wearing masks on a bus, with those who tend to still wear a mask being older.
“Due to buses getting busier, they can’t socially distance and feel their health is being placed at risk by non-mask-wearers.”
While wearing a face mask isn’t compulsory on trains or bus services, here in Greater Manchester it is still a legal requirement on Metrolink trams.
Just before all restrictions were lifted back in July, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham announced that the use of face masks would continue to be mandatory on all tram services and in Manchester Airport.
The mayor told ITV News at the time: “Public opinion is very squarely behind people continuing to wear masks – on public transport, particularly – but also possibly in essential retail.
“People have been getting in touch with me saying, ‘I want to get rid of it, it’s my choice’, but the bottom line is, if you’re standing next to somebody on a bus, who’s got to get the bus and are on the way to have their chemo or dialysis, you’ve got to put yourself in their shoes.”