- Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admits he can’t guarantee ‘pingdemic’ won’t continue beyond August 16
- Iceland said it closed ‘a number of stores’ due to staff having to self-isolate after being notified by NHS app
- The frozen food chain revealed 1,000 employees – four per cent of its workforce – have had to stay at home
- It said that in the next few days it will start to draft in another 2,000 people to fill temporary roles in stores
- Meanwhile BP said it has had to temporarily close some of its stations due to petrol and diesel supply issues
- The oil company said the problems were being caused by a shortage of lorry drivers that had been ‘pinged’
- And M&S warned one in five – 20% – of its workforce could be isolating at home by the middle of next month
- Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has temporarily closed 17 shops due to staff being forced to self-isolate.
A record 1.3million Covid self-isolation alerts were sent out across England last week, according to official NHS statistics that today laid bare the true scale of the ‘pingdemic’ chaos which has engulfed the country.
Supermarkets have urged Britons not to panic buy toilet roll, pasta, bottled water and wine amid an epidemic of empty shelves across the country, and ministers are facing calls to bring in the Army to shore up the supply of food.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today admitted he is ‘concerned’ about food supply issues but urged shoppers not to ‘panic buy’ and said he ‘can’t guarantee’ the self-isolation crisis won’t continue beyond August 16 — when quarantine rules are due to be dropped for the fully-vaccinated.
And he revealed the Government will U-turn and rush out a list of industries allowed to ignore the alerts — less than 48 hours after Downing Street insisted there would not be one.
As retailers begged for staff and delivery drivers to be made exempt from self-isolating when ‘pinged’, Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons defence committee, said today: ‘The urgency of staff shortages now impacting on supermarkets and by extension national food distribution warrants a Cobra meeting today for which the deployment of the Army to assist in HGV driver shortfall should be a last resort option considered’.