Coronavirus panic buying over as supermarkets 'return to normal levels' of stock

26 April 2020, 19:07

Mr Eustice said staffing levels had increased in supermarkets during the past three weeks
Mr Eustice said staffing levels had increased in supermarkets during the past three weeks. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

UK supermarket stocks have now "returned to normal" after a spate of panic buying.

Speaking at the Number 10 press conference, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the country saw significant problems in panic buying at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

But now he has revealed stocks are back to normal after the "episode quickly subsided".

Mr Eustice said staffing levels had increased in supermarkets during the past three weeks.

"The food supply chain has also seen a significant reduction in staff absence over recent weeks, as staff who had been self-isolating through suspected coronavirus have returned to work," the Environment Secretary told the briefing.

"Absence levels are down from a peak of typically 20 per cent in food businesses three weeks ago, to less than 10 per cent at the end of last week, and, in some cases, individual companies reporting absences as low as 6 per cent."

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The Environment Secretary also said the Government had been working with local authorities to ensure people who are not clinically vulnerable but in need of help can get the food that they need.

"We recognise that there are others that are not clinically vulnerable and therefore not in that shielded group, but who may also be in need of help," Mr Eustice said.

"Perhaps through having a disability, or another type of medical condition, or indeed being unable to draw on family and neighbours to help them.

"So we have been working with local authorities to ensure that those people can be allocated a volunteer shopper to help them get their food needs."

He said charities can now make direct referrals on the Good Samaritan app to locate volunteers for those in need.

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