Boris Johnson to discuss coronavirus panic buying with supermarket bosses

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be speaking to supermarket bosses about efforts to keep supplies flowing and how to overcome the panic buying that is gripping the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday, 21st March 2020, 10:08 am
Updated Saturday, 21st March 2020, 10:08 am

Shelves have been stripped of essential items, such as toilet rolls, hand sanitiser, paracetamol, meat, fruit and vegetables as shoppers ignore pleas not to stockpile.

It has led to supermarkets having to bring in limits on the amount of some items sold, with golden shopping hours introduced to help the elderly and NHS and care workers.

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Shoppers queued to get into Tesco in Burngreave, Sheffield, earlier this week

Stores are also taking on thousands of temporary and permanent workers to deal with the increased demand from the Covid-19 crisis.

It is understood Mr Johnson will be speaking to the leading supermarket chains to see what the government can do to ensure the shelves remain stocked and the supply chains can cope with the demand.

The Road Haulage Association has also welcomed an announcement by the Department of Transport to relax the working hours for drivers for a month from March 23 until April 21.

Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Sainbsury's have announced a golden shopping hour for NHS and social care workers, so they can join older and vulnerable shoppers in having less competition for restocked shelves.

Sainsbury's said from next week health and social care staff will be able to shop between 8am and 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, alongside elderly and vulnerable shoppers.

It is also consolidating its opening hours in its main stores from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, in order to be able focus on restocking shelves. Sunday opening, Sainsbury's Local and petrol station opening times will stay the same.

Meanwhile, Morrisons is taking on up to 500 staff from Marie Curie and CLIC Sargent charity shops to help the elderly and vulnerable in its supermarkets.

They will be working alongside Morrisons' army of community champions who currently work with local charities and community groups.

The Co-op is donating £1.5 million of essential food items to charity FareShare's network of food banks and community groups.

And to thank NHS workers and community groups for their hard work, Lidl is giving away thousands of bunches of Mother's Day flowers.