UNITED KINGDOM: With a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases in July, Britain’s rapid economic bounce-back from the coronavirus pandemic slowed sharply, causing shortages of food and gasoline and heaping stress on supply chains that were already strained by Brexit.
With workers self-isolating to contain the spread of the virus in Britain, supermarkets and hauliers say restocking shelves and delivering goods has become tough due to staff shortage. Friday’s monthly purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data gave the first clear evidence of the scale of the impact.
Some gas station operators acknowledged that some of their pumps were running dry.
“We are experiencing some fuel supply issues at some of our retail sites in the U.K. and unfortunately have therefore seen a handful of sites temporarily close due to a lack of both unleaded and diesel grades,” BP (BP) said in a statement.
A subsequent increase in the number of isolating workers due to rising virus caseload — also escalated a shortage of truck drivers caused in part by Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). Many truck drivers who are EU nationals left the country after Brexit and increased red tape at border crossings following Brexit was also putting European drivers off making trips into the United Kingdom.
A pingdemic to help self-isolate
U.K. workers are required to isolate at home for 10 days if they test Covid positive or if asked by the national test and trace service to do so – an app “ping” alerts people if they’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive.
A spokesperson for supermarket chain Lidl said: “Like all other retailers, the situation is becoming increasingly difficult as we have more and more colleagues having to self-isolate after being notified by the Track and Trace system.”
Another major supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s (JSAIY), said it was “working hard to ensure customers can find what they need.”
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Reuters in a report said Britain has rebounded after a nearly 10% slump in its economy of 2020 as the country suffered one of the world’s heaviest coronavirus death tolls. But reopening has created much inflation pressure and has been questioned by critics of the government, coming just as Covid cases see a spike.
Brexit-related trade frictions also hurt business morale and the economy of Britain.