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.
Some Covid restrictions to stay in place in Manchester, council says
All Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted today
As the majority of Plan B Covid restrictions are lifted, Manchester’s public health director has said some will be staying in place across the city.
In what has been described as a ‘pragmatic approach’, Manchester City Council is asking people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces and on public transport.
Students at schools and universities are also been asked to continue wearing masks in corridors until the February half term.
David Regan, Manchester’s public health director, said keeping some measures in place should ‘limit the onward transmission’ of Covid.
He said there had been a ‘good dialogue’ with the city’s universities and that schools had been ‘really receptive’ to the advice.
Regan explained: “If our primary school children are affected and it goes back into the household, that affects our health and social care workforce.
Deputy council leader Joanna Midgley supported Regan’s stance on the matter, saying the pandemic ‘was not over’ and said there were vulnerable people who ‘needed to be looked after’.
She said: “As the restrictions end, as a city we want to try and encourage people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces on public transport and to get that message across about looking out for each other, caring about each other.”
From today, Thursday January 27th, all Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted. This means that mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.
Face masks are also no longer mandatory, though various shops and public spaces have encouraged people to continue wearing them.
GMP confiscates and burns 173kg of cannabis following raid on weed farm
The cannabis farm contained drugs with an estimated value of £750k
Greater Manchester Police officers have burned huge bags of cannabis after plants growing the Class B drug were discovered at a weed farm in Manchester.
Officers raided the property in Cheetham Hill earlier this week on January 24th, where they discovered a cannabis farm containing drugs worth an estimated £750k.
Yesterday, 173kg of the plants – the equivalent of five German Shepherds, according to the force – were bagged up and burned through an incinerator.
GMP shared images of the farm onto the GMP Manchester North Facebook page, writing: “Tonight we have executed a warrant in #Cheetham and found a large cannabis farm with an estimated £750k worth of drugs.
“If anyone has any information please pass it to us so we can continue taking drugs from the streets.”
The force then shared an update yesterday regarding the burning of the plants, showing photos of police vans overflowing with bags of cannabis plants alongside the caption: “We have now dismantled the cannabis farm in #Cheetham and 173kg of cannabis has been burnt at the incinerator!
“That’s the equivalent of 5 German Shepherds! Our van was filled!”
This comes just weeks after North West Motorway Police seized £300k worth of laundered money during a routine stop check.
During the search, Regional Commercial Vehicle Unit and MO24 officers found a bag containing the cash in the boot, something that the driver ‘couldn’t account for’.
The cash was subsequently seized and the driver was arrested.
Reports involving drugs or other anti-social behaviour can be made to police online or by calling 101.
Met Police launches criminal investigation into Number 10 parties
The Metropolitan Police has launched a criminal investigation into the Number 10 parties during the 2020 lockdown, it has been announced today.
The force will be investigating ‘a number’ of incidences over the last two years in Downing Street and Whitehall, Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said in a press conference today.
She says the criteria for investigating past breaches of Covid rules has been met thanks to information provided by the Cabinet Office along with the force’s own officers.
The criteria is:
- Evidence that people knew or ought to have known what they were doing was an offense.
- Not investigating would significantly undermine the legitimacy of the law
- Little ambiguity around absence of any reasonable defence
Commissioner Dick added that Downing Street police may also be looked at as part of the force’s investigation, saying: “There are a number of officers posted in the surrounds of Downing Street… They have a very clear role and that is to protect security.
“In relation to anything they may have seen or heard or done or not done, again, I’m afraid I am not prepared to comment but I can assure you that we are carrying out our investigations and if that’s a relevant matter we will find out about that.”
She then insisted that the Met ‘police without fear or favour’ when challenged about why Scotland Yard hasn’t yet investigated the numerous reports of Number 10 parties.
Commissioner Dick added: “I absolutely understand there is deep public concern about the allegations that have been in the media over the last several weeks.
“Many many people including many Londoners, and indeed my colleagues have made huge sacrifices and they’ve suffered considerable loss during the pandemic.”