Empty Store Shelves in the UK Another Crisis Facing Boris Johnson

As the attractiveness of truck driving jobs for non-British nationals has diminished since the finalisation of Brexit, the country has faced a shortage of drivers; economic representatives have warned that store shelves will be empty.


Representatives of the economic sector in the UK have said that a shortage of truck drivers in the summer could lead to supply problems and empty supermarket shelves in the country. This recent difficulty is another Brexit side-effect which has left the UK with an array of hardships.

Johnson Appealed to Troubleshoot Shipping

Supermarkets report not receiving the goods they expect, said Richard Burnett, the Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association. He sent a joint letter from the affected industries to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The signatories to the petition, which also include logistics companies as well as food industry unions, called for Johnson to intervene personally to gain access to the European labour market using temporary work visas.

Diminished Attractiveness of Truck Driving Jobs for the British

Working as a truck driver is no longer attractive to non-British people since the end of UK’s exit from the EU. The outcome of this choice is proving more difficult than before as borders with Europe have been closed, bringing many obstacles with it. Summer holidays, ongoing economic constraints and high demand for food and drink due to the heat and major sporting events have exacerbated the issue. A UK government spokesman said the economy should employ local workers. With the imposition of customs duties on the exchange of goods between the UK and the EU, the price of goods imported into the UK has been higher than before.

Self-Quarantine Causes Chaos in Public Services

The isolation of a large number of workers in the UK due to Covid or contact with infected people has caused chaos in public services. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) also joined others in saying that British stores are under much pressure to supply goods to people due to healthy employees self-isolating.

Johnson’s government should act immediately and allow employees who have been double-jabbed or have a negative Covid-19 test to return to work. Some British stores have hired temporary staff to make up for the absence of their employees. The government says isolation is an important part of the country’s Covid-19 programme.

Growing Protests Against Track and Trace

Protests have escalated over the National Health Service (NHS) Covid-19 contact tracing app, which last week sent quarantine alerts to more than 500,000 people. A new poll suggests that one in five people have already deleted the app. Ministers are suggesting it is sending out too many “pings” and its sensitivity may need to be adjusted.

The scientists and software developers working on the app are adamant that it is performing well, doing just what it was designed to do. The poll by Savanta ComRes for the Guardian suggests that young people in particular are giving up on the app, with a third of 18-34-year-old users saying they have already deleted it, and another third saying they are planning to do so over the next six days. The National Health Service (NHS) designed this software last year to manage the Covid-19 situation in the country. The software is installed on a smartphone and operates based on GPS, so that the system warns people when they encounter patients with Covid. Users can also report symptoms to the Department of Health and request a test.

IT Experts Warn About the Tracking System

Officials at the Health Department launched a wave of publicity last year about the benefits of installing the software, stressing that the more users there are, the faster the government will ease pandemic restrictions. At the same time, IT experts warned against the transfer of user data to the central servers of the UK government. Now, a year later, research shows that the UK government has overused the app, or so-called PINGs, to track citizens.  Up to a fifth of workers in companies are having to self-isolate after receiving a notification from the NHS Covid app, threatening cuts in goods production.

There are calls to bring forward the 16 August date where the fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone with Covid-19. Small and large companies are being hit by staff shortages of up to 20%, according to the PA news agency. Car giant Nissan has been affected at its plant in Sunderland and it is believed that other carmakers, including Rolls-Royce, might also have to make changes to production schedules to deal with the problem.

Empty Store Shelves Make Headlines

The front pages of many British newspapers last week were devoted to pictures of empty store shelves in the country. Some analysts have attributed the situation to the rush to buy some items and union sources say there is no shortage of goods. Andrew Opie, director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), says many store staff have received self-quarantine warnings from the NHS Covid-19 app, making it difficult to find goods on store shelves. According to him, the number of truck drivers who have received warnings has also disrupted the food supply chain.

Absence of Store Staff due to Covid-19 Restrictions

Iceland Foods Ltd has been forced to close stores over the ‘Pingdemic’ and staff self-isolations. Iceland has had to shut down a number of stores because of staff shortages, bosses have said. The managing director of the frozen food giant, Richard Walker, has revealed 1,000 employees – which is four per cent of its workforce – have had to stay at home after being notified by the NHS app. He also said there are issues with the supply chain because of a lack of HGV drivers, meaning two stores have already had to close. The British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA) also estimates that between 5-10% of the workforce in this sector has been ‘pinged’ by the (health service) app and asked to self-isolate,” BMPA CEO Nick Allen said. BP also said that Lorry driver shortages have disrupted the supply of fuel to the company’s stations.

Boris Johnson has No Solution to the Problem

The government says it has exempted some employees from quarantine in key jobs, but Boris Johnson made it clear a few days ago that he did not intend to open the exemptions too much so that Covid would not spiral out of control.

This situation is expected to continue for at least another three weeks, when the UK government intends to ease restrictions on the mandatory self-quarantine of those who have been in contact with Covid-19 patients. From 16 August onwards, people who have received both Covid vaccines will have a daily Covid-19 test if they come in contact with the infected person so that they will not need to self-quarantine. Currently, people who come in contact with a Covid-19 infected person must self-quarantine for 10 days.

After 47 years of membership, the UK officially left the EU in early January 2021. The government says it has reached an agreement on the future of trade cooperation with the EU. But in practice, Brexit has been the cause of much trouble, especially in the UK. The British people will gradually realise the futility of Brexit. What is interpreted as maintaining sovereignty, or taking control of the country and its destiny, is practically meaningless with the restrictions imposed in this agreement. The emptiness of store shelves and the inability of the government to provide for the people is another problem which is growing in size every day and taking the country into troubled waters.

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