Shoppers were pictured in full protective gear as they ventured out to get essentials amid the coronavirus lockdown today.
Britons donned gloves and facemasks on trips to supermarkets nationwide today, after the death toll from the virus reached 1,228 today.
One cautious shopper was even pictured with a respiratory unit covering his entire face in east London.
It comes as Tesco Express limited purchases of a number of essential items such as milk, bread, eggs and toilet roll to one item per person.
All supermarkets are now making customers queue six feet apart from one another, in line with the Government’s social distancing policy.
Lines are spiralling down High Streets and around supermarket car parks in light of the new rules.
Shoppers were pictured in full protective gear (Ladbroke Gove, west London today) as they ventured out to get essentials amid the coronavirus lockdown today
Britons have hoarded food worth £1billion during the past fortnight as a result of panic buying. Pictured: Queue outside Lidl supermarket in Streatham, London, earlier today
Tesco is limiting customers to just one item of essential goods each across many of its Express stores. Pictured: One shopper wore a full respiratory protection unit with helmet at a Tesco store in Barkingside, East London, earlier today
Tesco shoppers in Walthamstow, London, were notified about the new limit via signs on their shelves.
According to The Sunday Times, it read: ‘To help give everyone access to essential items this product is limited to only 1 per customer.’
The measures are being enforced at the discretion of individual stores based on their ability to cope with local demand and supply.
A spokeswoman for Tesco said: ‘To ensure more people have access to everyday essentials, we have introduced a store-wide restriction of three items per customer on every product line.
‘In a small number of stores where demand is particularly high, our colleagues may need to place further restrictions on some products on a local basis, to ensure everyone can get the things they need.’
The new measures are being enforced at the discretion of individual stores based on their ability to cope with local demand and supply. Pictured: Member of staff waiting for a delivery in London on Sunday
Farmers warn of food shortages as travel bans restrict the number of workers available to pick crops
British workers have been urged to fill the gap of seasonal foreign workers by picking fruit and vegetables this summer.
George Eustice, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said it was ‘critically important’ there was a supply of seasonal workers for the British agricultural industry.
According to the British Growers Association, there was a need for around 70,000 seasonal staff a year.
They said that due to the new post-Brexit points-based immigration system being introduced, there was just 10,000 permits available under a seasonal workers’ pilot scheme for non-UK nationals – a shortfall of around 60,000.
The Government announcement comes as the travel and movement restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have caused labour shortages as the picking season starts.
While supermarkets have introduced restrictions on certain products, having become overwhelmed by panic buying as shoppers rush to stock up.
‘Our farmers are doing a fantastic job of feeding the nation during this immensely challenging time,’ Mr Eustice said.
‘I have been speaking with industry today and in the last week about the critically important issue of seasonal workers, who usually come from Europe to pick fruit and vegetables.
‘We need to mobilise the British workforce to fill that gap and make sure our excellent fruit and vegetables are on people’s plates over the summer months.
‘There are already brilliant recruitment efforts under way by industry and I would encourage as many people as possible to sign up.
‘We will also be looking at other ways to make sure farmers have support they need ahead of the busy harvest months, while also keeping workers safe and protected.’
Meanwhile Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger called for the creation of a new Land Army to help alleviate the current problems.
He said some of the thousands of people who are temporarily without work because of the Covid-19 epidemic could harvest vegetables and fruit.
And he has called for the creation of a simplified, web-based scheme to match agricultural employers with potential staff.
In World War Two, 80,000 women joined the Land Army to help cover labour shortages in agriculture.
French government officials have launched an appeal for temporary farm workers to come forward after farming unions warned producers would be short of 200,000 staff this spring because of a ban on bringing in foreign labour.
Mr Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said the creation of a similar workforce this side of the Channel would help farmers head off the threat of tons of fruit and vegetables going unpicked over the next few months.
‘The NFU president has been warning of the problems farmers are facing because of a foreign labour shortage but I would have thought that here, surely, is a simple solution which the NFU itself could adopt,’ he said.
‘But it has to be a no-frills operation. We cannot load farmers up with more onerous paperwork because they have more than enough on their plates at the moment.
‘These are desperate times and the Government is tearing up the rules on a daily basis to get us through them, so a few more torn ones aren’t going to make a heap of difference.
‘The difference this scheme could make, however, is that between the nation continuing to be fed and some serious and prolonged food shortages.
‘I am certain there will be thousands of people dreading the tedium of having to stay at home for weeks and who would welcome the chance of a temporary job in the fresh air, particularly since social distancing is generally far easier to achieve when people are working outdoors.’
The chain announced earlier this weekend that online customers would only be allowed to buy a maximum of 80 items for home delivery.
It follows a whole host of other supermarkets introducing similar capping schemes in response to coronavirus stockpiling.
Sainsbury’s has a three-item limit on most products apart from long-life milk, toilet roll and soap which all have a restriction of two.
And Aldi has a four-item cap.
The introduction of the new limit comes after young and healthy people were urged to stay away from supermarkets and make meals from food in their cupboards as demand for groceries and household goods surged during the coronavirus lockdown.
Britons have hoarded food worth £1billion during the past fortnight as a result of panic buying – despite assurances from the government and industry that there is still plenty in the supply chain.
The CEO of Tesco has recently been encouraging shoppers who are able to use stores in order to free-up delivery slots for online orders to the elderly and vulnerable.
But the move has meant that there continue to be lengthy queues outside supermarkets up and down the country as shoppers are forced to maintain their distance as they wait to enter the stores.
NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis accused panic buyers of depriving healthcare staff of the food supplies they need, adding: ‘Frankly we should all be ashamed.’
Ocado has been operating at full capacity during the crisis and said yesterday it had around ten times more demand for its services than it did before the outbreak began.
Online orders are now limited to one per week per customer, while some items have also been limited to just two per person.
Chief executive of the online delivery service, Lord Stuart Rose, urged consumers to act rationally as he revealed Britons had hoarded an extra £1billion worth of food over the past couple of weeks.
The boss of the UK’s biggest retailer Tesco, Dave Lewis, has written to customers to reassure them there is still plenty of food, but asking the young and the healthy to venture out to their local store.
Users of the retail giant’s online service have complained they are unable to secure a home delivery slot.
In his letter, he has asked those who can venture out to shop in-store – while taking appropriate precautions.
Supermarkets have recently moved to enforce more stringent precautions for the safety of staff and customers including limiting the number of shoppers allowed into their stores at any given time.
Tesco boss Dave Lewis recently wrote to customers saying staff will draw new floor markings in the checkout areas, install protective screens on checkouts, and introduce one-way aisles.
‘Our social distancing plans aim to protect customers from the moment they enter our car parks, to browsing products, to paying and finally exiting our stores,’ he wrote.
And in a letter to customers, Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said the number of people allowed in stores and at ATMs at any one time will be limited.
He said queuing systems will be put in place outside stores and people are urged to arrive throughout the day to avoid long queues forming in the morning, and encouraged people to pay by card.
‘We will be reminding people in stores to keep a safe distance from other customers and from our colleagues,’ he said.
Mr Coupe said the number of checkouts will be reduced and screens will be introduced.
He said many customers have written to him to say they are elderly or vulnerable and are struggling to book online delivery slots.
‘We are doing our absolute best to offer online delivery slots to elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers.
‘These customers have priority over all slots.
‘Our customer Careline has been inundated with requests from elderly and vulnerable customers – we have had one year’s worth of contacts in two weeks.
‘We have proactively contacted 270,000 customers who had already given us information that meant we could identify them as being in these groups,’ he said.
Mr Coupe, who apologised to regular online customers, and said they have already booked in slots for 115,000 elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers this week.
Tesco also announced earlier this weekend that online customers would only be allowed to buy a maximum of 80 items for home delivery. Pictured: People wearing protective face masks as they queued outside Sainsbury’s supermarket in Streatham, London
Similarly Ocado chairman Lord Stuart Rose issued his own guidance to Brits earlier this week amid the ongoing crisis.
Lord Rose, 71, who is also a former chairman and chief executive of clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer, has been in self-isolation after suspecting he had contracted the virus.
Rose also called on people in the country to ‘make your meals work’.
‘If you buy a chicken, roast the chicken, have the roast chicken dinner, the following day turn it into a stir fry, the following day make it into soup,’ he said.
‘You can make a relatively small amount of food go a long way and I think we live in a very profligate society today – we buy too much, we eat too much, we consume too much and we have to learn new ways.’
‘There is a billion pounds more food in people’s larders than there was a couple of weeks ago – what are they doing with it? How much food do you need to eat? How much do you need to store away? Please show some restraint,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘There is no shortage of food… Nobody will starve.’
Coronavirus is continuing to spread across the country at an exponential rate.
Supermarkets have recently moved to enforce more stringent precautions for the safety of staff and customers including limiting the number of shoppers allowed into their stores at any given time. Pictured: Shoppers waiting to enter Sainsbury’s at Ladbroke Grove, London
War-time food rationing will likely come into force ‘in a matter of weeks’ because relying on public to exercise shopping restraint during lockdown ‘won’t work’, academic expert warns
The UK should be braced for food rationing because relying on the public to exercise shopping restraint simply ‘won’t work’, according to an academic expert. Pictured: empty shelves at a branch of Waitrose in London last week
By Hayley Richardson for MailOnline
The UK should be braced for food rationing because relying on the public to exercise shopping restraint simply ‘won’t work’, according to an academic expert.
Bryce Evans, associate professor of history and politics at Liverpool Hope University, said we’re not at crisis point yet, and urged people not to panic buy.
But he’s also calling on authorities to look at the lessons learned from the First and Second World Wars to combat any potential shortages in the current coronavirus crisis.
He warned history proves that urging people not to be selfish or stockpile is futile – and it’s unfair to delegate that task to supermarket workers, too.
Professor Evans added that we could see the formation of a new Ministry of Food to ensure items can be delivered to doors via online shopping and paid for with ‘ration coupons’.
And empty school kitchens could even be commandeered to make food en masse, before being delivered via courier, leaning on established supermarket networks.
He told FEMAIL: ‘There’s a risk we’re still not taking this crisis seriously enough when it comes to our food supply. There needs to be a big shift in current consumption behaviours, because it’s a matter of weeks before things start to become a real problem if we continue in the same vein.
‘And I can see rationing on the horizon. Both wars show us that what the government is doing right now – telling people not to panic buy, to voluntarily curtail consumption – just doesn’t work, sadly.
‘It has to be followed up with a clear, government-led rationing system of essential goods.
‘This was previously done in collaboration with retailers and it can be replicated again, accompanied by price controls and greater penalties for the worst racketeers and black marketeers.
‘Rationing can’t be left up to poor old supermarket checkout staff, who have to deal with anger and arguments – the government must step in.
‘The online ration system would also seem likely since we do not want scenes like at the weekend, where hundreds of people descend on a supermarket at the same time, because this increases the risk of transmission greatly.’
Professor Evans said we could see the formation of a new Ministry of Food to ensure items can be delivered to doors via online shopping and paid for with ‘ration coupons’. Pictured: empty shelves of beer and cider in Tesco Walkden, north west of Manchester
Associate Professor Evans, who’s written extensively on nutrition and public feeding in times of war, explains how ‘established food supply networks for the most needy are already coming under pressure’, with food banks closing and donations drying up.
He added: ‘The system is under enormous strain and it’s going to impact upon the poorest people. If things accelerate as fast as they are doing in Europe, we have a problem.
‘Remember that a lot of our food is imported from Europe and beyond. If those networks falter, it has a knock-on effect for us all.’
As the crisis continues, Professor Evans predicts a new Ministry of Food – the type that oversaw rationing in World War II – to oversee a ‘national kitchen’ food supply system.
He said: ‘During both World Wars, we had a Ministry of Food. And you might see the emergence of that again.
‘Many schools are now empty. Why not use the empty kitchens in these buildings to cook food, which can then be delivered via courier?
‘This was done in wartime through the popular Queen’s messenger convoys – vans driven by young women which would drive at high speed and distribute food after bombing raids.
‘We could see the UberEats or JustEats model being taken over by the government, to establish an efficient and affordable system of doorstep delivery. It’s a huge culture shift, and government intervention could represent the end of consumerism as we know it.’
There could also be a shift in the nature of the UK’s physical landscape, too – because if food supply networks fail, Britain will have to increase farming production.
Professor Evans said: ‘In the UK, we’ve got six million hectares of land which could be used to produce fruit and veg. But only 168,000 hectares are actually being used for that purpose.
‘You’d have to have a scheme of compulsory purchase or requisition to enable us to use this land to produce more food.
‘As the coronavirus crisis gets worse over the coming months, we need to be innovative. And the best blueprint for this comes from the wars – particularly the Land Army and Meals on Wheels campaigns.’
As a silver lining to the bleak outlook, Professor Bryce says government-led rationing could actually help to redress the balance when it comes to the gulf in health and nutrition between the poor and the rich.
He also suggested a celebrity-driven propaganda campaign could make sure any rationing project doesn’t become ‘drab and statist’. Instead, food advice would be issued by trusted retail figureheads as well as celebrity chefs.
But the academic has also called on courts to issue the very toughest fines – and even prison sentences – for the worst black market racketeering offenders.
He added: ‘In a time of crisis, the black market is not the preserve of lovable rogues – it’s deadly serious.
‘And I’d suggest prison sentences and hefty fines are appropriate for those found guilty of the most extreme cases of profiteering from coronavirus.
‘Again, there’s a historical precedent here for the need to be strict. Eventually, you have to act. You can’t rely on social shaming to hurt these individuals.’
A government spokesperson told FEMAIL: ‘We will do whatever it takes to ensure people have the food and supplies they need. Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains and taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.
‘Supermarkets are already taking action to limit the supply of certain items to make sure shelves are stocked and it is crucial we all respect and adhere to these decisions.’