Panic-buying rampage sparks concern in Number 10

Supermarket bosses launched a plea for calm among shoppers yesterday after a wave of panic-buying around the country cleared shelves as people stockpiled for the expected coronavirus epidemic.

The chaotic scenes, with people scrabbling to load up with loo rolls, long-life milk and pasta, have led to rationing by the major shop chains – and triggered alarm in No 10.

The issue has been high on the agenda of Boris Johnson‘s COBRA emergency meetings on the crisis, with the Army being readied as a contingency to guard supermarkets and secure food convoys.

More than one third of shoppers have said they are stockpiling produce. 

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents most of Britain’s supermarkets, said the rise in demand for certain products was ‘unprecedented outside of the Christmas period’, with the difference that it was focused mainly on ‘hygiene and longer shelf-life food products’.

Trolleys piled high for delivery are seen as shoppers queue at an Asda checkout, while - in the background - stock from orders made by online customers is piled up in spare trolleys for delivery. Supermarkets are under huge pressure to meet demand

Trolleys piled high for delivery are seen as shoppers queue at an Asda checkout, while - in the background - stock from orders made by online customers is piled up in spare trolleys for delivery. Supermarkets are under huge pressure to meet demand

Trolleys piled high for delivery are seen as shoppers queue at an Asda checkout, while – in the background – stock from orders made by online customers is piled up in spare trolleys for delivery. Supermarkets are under huge pressure to meet demand 

Shoppers were seen in winding lines outside Savers supermarket in Wood Green, London, as they tried to get their hands on toilet roll, hand sanitiser and tinned goods amid nation-wide panic as Covid-19 grips the country

Shoppers were seen in winding lines outside Savers supermarket in Wood Green, London, as they tried to get their hands on toilet roll, hand sanitiser and tinned goods amid nation-wide panic as Covid-19 grips the country

Shoppers were seen in winding lines outside Savers supermarket in Wood Green, London, as they tried to get their hands on toilet roll, hand sanitiser and tinned goods amid nation-wide panic as Covid-19 grips the country

Panic-buying Britons are seen in a Tesco in the capital, forming a huge queue  as some push trolleys piled high with essentials during the pandemic hysteria. One man (pictured front right) seeks to buy three mega packs of toilet paper

Panic-buying Britons are seen in a Tesco in the capital, forming a huge queue  as some push trolleys piled high with essentials during the pandemic hysteria. One man (pictured front right) seeks to buy three mega packs of toilet paper

Panic-buying Britons are seen in a Tesco in the capital, forming a huge queue  as some push trolleys piled high with essentials during the pandemic hysteria. One man (pictured front right) seeks to buy three mega packs of toilet paper

In Tesco Extra in Surrey Quays, southeast London, shoppers bought in bulk like never before. It is believed that people are seeking out extra food in preparation for possible self-isolation or quarantine as Covid-19 sweeps the UK

In Tesco Extra in Surrey Quays, southeast London, shoppers bought in bulk like never before. It is believed that people are seeking out extra food in preparation for possible self-isolation or quarantine as Covid-19 sweeps the UK

In Tesco Extra in Surrey Quays, southeast London, shoppers bought in bulk like never before. It is believed that people are seeking out extra food in preparation for possible self-isolation or quarantine as Covid-19 sweeps the UK

The rampage has led to extraordinary scenes such as the man from Bath who was pictured wearing a combat-style hazmat suit while carrying 27 toilet rolls out of a shop.

In a joint letter to customers, the BRC asked them to display calm and consideration. The letter, which is published in today’s Mail on Sunday, says: ‘We know that many of you are worried about the spread of coronavirus.

‘We want to let you know that we are doing everything we can so that you and your families have the food and essentials you need. But we need your help too.

‘We would ask everyone to be considerate in the way they shop. We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without.

‘There is enough for everyone if we all work together.

‘Together we can make sure we are looking out for family, friends, neighbours. Together we will care for those around us and those who are elderly, vulnerable or choosing to remain at home.

‘We are doing all we can to rise to this challenge. Serving you and keeping you and everyone who works with us safe will always be our priority.’

This message to shoppers from Britain's leading supermarkets asks people to be considerate and to not buy more than they need. Part of the letter says: 'We are doing all we can to rise to this challenge'

This message to shoppers from Britain's leading supermarkets asks people to be considerate and to not buy more than they need. Part of the letter says: 'We are doing all we can to rise to this challenge'

This message to shoppers from Britain’s leading supermarkets asks people to be considerate and to not buy more than they need. Part of the letter says: ‘We are doing all we can to rise to this challenge’

Shelves in Tesco are decimated amid the rampage of panic-buying, with stock left on the supermarket floor and a spare trolley is abandoned in the chaos, as Britain sinks into coronavirus hysteria

Shelves in Tesco are decimated amid the rampage of panic-buying, with stock left on the supermarket floor and a spare trolley is abandoned in the chaos, as Britain sinks into coronavirus hysteria

Shelves in Tesco are decimated amid the rampage of panic-buying, with stock left on the supermarket floor and a spare trolley is abandoned in the chaos, as Britain sinks into coronavirus hysteria

Pasta shelves in Sainsbury's emptied as scores of shoppers rampaged through the store amid coronavirus pandemic, days after PM Boris Johnson told the nation that Covid-19 is 'the worst public health crisis in a generation'

Pasta shelves in Sainsbury's emptied as scores of shoppers rampaged through the store amid coronavirus pandemic, days after PM Boris Johnson told the nation that Covid-19 is 'the worst public health crisis in a generation'

Pasta shelves in Sainsbury’s emptied as scores of shoppers rampaged through the store amid coronavirus pandemic, days after PM Boris Johnson told the nation that Covid-19 is ‘the worst public health crisis in a generation’

Former Labour MP Luciana Berger was one of a number of social media users who said they were appalled by the behaviour of shoppers.

She wrote on Twitter: ‘A man in Golders Green Sainsbury’s wouldn’t give an elderly lady just one of a number of packets of dry pasta he had grabbed.

‘He said no when she asked him politely. Very upsetting. We need a national kindness effort to lookout for the elderly, infirm and vulnerable.’

Another wrote: ‘Ridiculous scenes in Tesco Colney Hatch this morning. Shelves cleared like there’s been a riot.

‘The selfishness of some people filling their trolleys with multiple packs and leaving none for others is staggering.’

Shoppers panic-buying toilet rolls in Savers. One woman buys excess toilet roll

Shoppers panic-buying toilet rolls in Savers. One woman buys excess toilet roll

Shoppers panic-buying toilet rolls in Savers. One woman buys excess toilet roll

The surge in panic buying has led Tesco – Britain’s biggest supermarket – to ration the sale of anti-bacterial products, dried pasta, tinned vegetables, toilet paper and tissues to five packs at a time.

In Boots, bottles of children’s paracetamol Calpol are being sold at only one at a time. Retailers have tried to reassure consumers that the country will not run out of loo roll because the UK is a major exporter of the product – shipping £103million worth of the product to countries around the world last year.

Tesco chairman John Allan insisted that Britain’s supermarkets will be able to keep the country fed throughout the coronavirus crisis.

He said: ‘There’s plenty of product in the supply chain, there’s plenty of food at Tesco and other supermarkets, and I don’t think anybody needs to panic buy.

‘We, and I’m sure our competitors, are re-filling our supply chains as rapidly as we can.’

Desperate shoppers form huge queues to purchase toilet roll and strip shelves bare – leaving a trail of destruction – as panic-buying escalates and supermarkets struggle to cope with internet orders amid coronavirus chaos sweeping Britain

Coronavirus panic-buying unleashed carnage on British supermarkets today as hordes of shoppers gutted the nation’s food and toilet roll aisles.

Startling scenes across the country saw shoppers crammed outside store entrances before making a bee-line for hygiene products, which have been in short supply over recent days.

A mass of trolleys piled high with tinned products and essentials were pictured inside one London Asda branch as Britons braced to bunker down at home after Boris Johnson urged anyone with a cough to self-isolate.

The supermarket pandemonium came after the UK’s death toll doubled to 21 and the number of cases jumped to more than 1,100.

In a sign that the UK’s epidemic was rapidly spiralling, Donald Trump today extended the United States’ travel ban to include Britain.   

Toilet roll shelves have been completely raided at Sainsbury's in London immediately after it opened at 7am

Toilet roll shelves have been completely raided at Sainsbury's in London immediately after it opened at 7am

Toilet roll shelves have been completely raided at Sainsbury’s in London immediately after it opened at 7am

The flight freeze will kick in at midnight tomorrow, scuppering scores of trans-Atlantic work and holidays plans.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to rock everyday life for millions around the world:

  • Ten over-60s died of the virus in the past 24 hours in the deadliest day of the UK’s outbreak so far;
  • An expert warned over 20million Britons could be infected with the virus by the summer; 
  • Spain was put on a nationwide lock-down after cases soared by a third overnight to 5,753;
  • France went into lock-down with restaurants, shops, cinemas and cafés to shut for the foreseeable future;
  • President Trump revealed he had been tested for the infection and was awaiting results, with new measures in place to screen anyone in his close proximity; 
  •  Iran’s death toll rose to 611 as the regime scrambles to contain one of the world’s worst outbreaks.

The panic hitting the UK’s high streets reached fever pitch with one man from Bath, who was pictured dressed in a combat-style hazmat suit carrying 27 toilet rolls.

And in one Asda in South Wales, the doomsday song The Final Countdown was even blasted out of the shop’s sound system. 

Consumers shop in near empty aisles of a supermarket in London on Friday afternoon, with numerous empty packages left by the aisle

Consumers shop in near empty aisles of a supermarket in London on Friday afternoon, with numerous empty packages left by the aisle

Consumers shop in near empty aisles of a supermarket in London on Friday afternoon, with numerous empty packages left by the aisle

Food retailers have urged customers to shop responsibly during the coronavirus outbreak as shelves are left bare. 

‘We want to let you know that we are doing everything we can so that you and your families have the food and essentials you need. But we need your help too. We would ask everyone to be considerate in the way they shop.

‘We understand your concerns, but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without. There is enough for everyone if we all work together. 

‘Together we can make sure we are looking out for family, friends, neighbours. Together we will care for those around us and those who are elderly, vulnerable or choosing to remain at home.’

Firms are working closely with the Government and suppliers, and have arranged more store deliveries to ensure shelves are stocked, the letter added.

Speaking on behalf of the retailers, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Retailers are working incredibly hard to keep shops well stocked and deliveries running as smoothly as possible.

Surrey Quays' Tesco Extra saw huge at the tills as people continued to panic buy in south east London

Surrey Quays' Tesco Extra saw huge at the tills as people continued to panic buy in south east London

Surrey Quays’ Tesco Extra saw huge at the tills as people continued to panic buy in south east London

‘In the face of unprecedented demand as a result of coronavirus, food retailers have come together to ask their customers to support each other to make sure everyone can get access to the products they need.’ 

British Retail Consortium members sent a joint letter to consumers – who are frightened stiff of contracting the life-threatening bug – asking everyone to work together to ensure there is enough food for the country. 

Retailers are currently working ’round the clock’ to help customers get the items they need, the BRC said. The letter aims to reassure customers, while calling on them to support each other during the crisis.

It said: ‘We know that many of you are worried about the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). 

Coronavirus fears have taken a stranglehold on British public life, and were amplified yesterday when Boris Johnson tacked to ban mass gatherings.

The government also advised anyone with a cough to isolate themselves for seven days, triggering mass stockpiling.

Ministers were also in consultation with businesses about staff working from home to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Link hienalouca.com

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