Scrap self-isolation rules before August, ministers told

The government has been told that the “pingdemic” has led to panic-buying and staff shortages as supermarkets called for quarantine rules to be eased before August 16.

According to Telegraph sources, environment minister George Eustice and vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi were warned last week that rural, tourist and coastal areas had been hit hardest.

In the Thursday meeting, food industry bosses highlighted that one in five Co-op workers were self-isolating after being “pinged” by the NHS Covid app.

They also said shops were concerned that the rollout of Covid-19 tests to keep staff in work did not cover supermarket employees.

READ MORE: One in five shop workers self-isolating, BRC says

Waitrose reportedly claimed it had seen panic-buying after images of empty shelves emerged, the result of the plummeting number of delivery drivers.

It came as ministers met yesterday to discuss plans to open an extra 1200 testing centres for key workers, which would allow them to avoid self-isolating.

Supermarket warehouse staff were given access to 500 sites last week.

Despite calls from the industry, the government has so far refused to bring forward quarantine rule changes from August or given shop floor staff access to these centres.

“We heard a lot from the government about opening up and saying the rules won’t last longer than necessary, but so far we’ve seen little action,” an industry insider said. 

“The nation’s food supply is under threat and little is being done by the Government to deal with it.”

Others singled out health secretary Sajid Javid for criticism.

A Whitehall source said: “Submarine Sajid seems nowhere to be seen and is leaving it to other departments to mop up his mess.

“It’s been left to Defra [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and the Home Office to deal with something that’s led by health. 

“Everyone is asking where Sajid is.”

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