Supermarkets to restock shelves overnight to combat coronavirus panic buying

Supermarkets will be restocking through the night in response to coronavirus panic buying.

Environment Secretary George Eustice met with bosses from major supermarket chains to draw up the plans after stories found it difficult to keep up with demand for loo roll, pasta, rice and other essentials.

Tesco has even been rationing customers buying products such as long-life milk, pasta and baked beans to prevent panic buyers from emptying shelves.

Mr Eustice said: “We have listened to our leading supermarkets and representatives from across the industry, and we are taking action to support their preparations.

“By allowing night time deliveries to our supermarkets and food retailers we can free them up to move their stocks more quickly from their warehouses to their shelves."

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He added: “Our retailers have well-established contingency plans in place and are taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.”

A special helpline to allow the elderly and housebound to order grocery deliveries is also being considered.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, told The Sun that the move would mean an end to empty shelves: “We welcome all efforts by government to provide supermarkets with greater flexibility in the way they supply their stores."

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He continued: “While there is plenty of stock available, the challenge for retailers has been to make sure all of it reaches shelves at the earliest opportunity.”

As the government begins to shift its pandemic response to the 'delay' stage, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the Commons: “Acting too early creates its own risks, we will make the right choices of what to do at the right moment.

“We will do what is right to keep people safe.”

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Currently, 459 people in the UK have tested positive for Covid-19, with eight reported deaths. The worldwide death toll is 4,639.

In Italy, the government is expected to order all shops except supermarkets and chemists to close as the country intensifies its coronavirus lockdown.

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