Selfish British shoppers stockpile £1bn food in panic buy over covid-19 lockdown
London, March 22, 2020 (AltAfrica)- The scale of panic-buy in Britain over covid-19 lockdown is laid bare after it was revealed on Saturday that shoppers are hoarding an extra £1bn worth of food in their homes.
The revelation came as British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson spoke to supermarket bosses about efforts to keep supplies flowing and ministers pleaded with the public to stop stockpiling during the coronavirus pandemic.
The panic buying which began with hand sanitizers and tissue paper has now affected all foodstuffs as Britain closes schools. churches and mosques and urged people to stay at home
The situation was so bad that a front line nurse who had worked for 14 hours broke down in tears when she could not get anything to buy from the shops. An NHS chief said Britons “should be ashamed that nothing is left for medical staff “
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, the environment secretary, George Eustice, said people buying more than they needed meant that key NHS workers fighting the disease were faced with empty shelves when they tried to shop.
He said there was no shortage of food in the country amid the pandemic, manufacturers having increased production by 50%.
His message to the public was: “Be responsible when you shop
Environment Secretary George Eustice said there was more than enough food to go around – but the challenge for shops is keeping shelves stocked.
It comes as supermarkets have been overwhelmed by increased purchasing.
Another 53 people with coronavirus have died in England, bringing the total of deaths in the country to 220.
Meanwhile, cafes, pubs and restaurants across the UK have closed as part of measures to stop the virus spreading.
And, on Saturday night, the National Trust announced it was closing its parks and gardens from midnight “to help restrict the spread of the coronavirus”.
“Frankly we should all be ashamed,” said Prof Stephen Powis, medical director at NHS England, who said panic-buyers are depriving NHS staff of the supplies they need.
“These are the very people that we all need to look after perhaps us or our loved ones in the weeks to come.”
Also speaking at the news conference in Downing Street on Saturday, the head of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said: “There is plenty of food in the supply chain.”
“The issue is around people and lorries” getting food onto shelves quick enough, she said.
She said the food industry was experiencing “a peak in demand” like at Christmas, but “without the four-month build-up period.”
“There is £1bn more food in people’s houses than there was three weeks ago, so we should make sure we eat some of it,” she said.