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Army could be called to protect supermarkets amid coronavirus panic-buying

Some people are freaking out, but the supermarkets have it all under control

33w ago

3.9K

As the Covid-19 Coronavirus continues to spread, it’s emerged that UK supermarkets have drawn up contingency plans to help offset panic-buying by people, well, freaking out.

Several supermarkets have reported customers stockpiling items such as bottled water, tinned food and pasta, and delivery firm Ocado said it had seen exceptionally high demand with people placing large food orders. An expert has suggested that further panic-buying could see the military deployed to protect food stocks.

Details of the plans came from City analyst Bruno Monteyne of investment firm Alliance Bernstein, as detailed in The Guardian. Monteyne, formerly a supply chain director at Tesco, said further escalation of the virus could result in “panic buying, empty shelves and food riots”. But, he added, there were plans in place to deal with such disruption.

"Aaargh, panic buy cake" (Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash)

"Aaargh, panic buy cake" (Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash)

In a message to investors, he said “Yes, it will be chaotic (and expect pictures of empty shelves), but the industry will reduce complexity to keep the country fed.” Tesco, he added, had practiced simulation exercises with teams prepared for a flu pandemic.

Getting the army in

Should the outbreak worsen, Britain may see supermarkets and suppliers reduce their ranges so that facilities can be as efficient as possible at keeping the public fed. Monteyne said firms were likely to be preparing lists of which products will be prioritised, but he did not expect prices to rise, for fear of accusations of profiteering.

However, he warned that the army could be called in to protect depots, food trucks and stores, and suggested that all supermarkets and suppliers would start working together.

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Comments (8)

  • There's still plenty of food on shelves in Australia, but for some reason, everybody has bought toilet paper. The local Costco limited their supply to one bag per purchase, then ran out. I never thought I'd live to see Costco run out of toilet paper.

      7 months ago
  • I am pretty much good all the time. I could use cpl bags of flour and sugar and some water.

      7 months ago
  • Now is when the Queen should start her Keep Calm and Carry On campaign again.

      7 months ago
  • People are going absolutely mental about a disease that is essentially just a comparatively nasty flu.

    The small handful of people that have died from it - and guess what, hundreds of people die from the bloody flu every year - have all been elderly people in their sixties or higher - just like most influensas. Unless you're in a risk group (heavy smoker, asthmatic, or other pulmonary diseases or disorders), you have nothing to - really - worry about.

    Also, coronavirus can only be spread through fluids through mucus membranes (like coughing, sneezing, kissing, that kinda thing) - again like an ordinary influensa - so if you practice common sense and don't hug or kiss someone that's under the weather, and perhaps disinfect your hands when you're out shopping or such, you should be perfectly fine.

    We survived all the other influensa epidemics, like H1N1, after all.

      7 months ago
  • This could prove popular for slimming, as Han Solo once quipped in Star Wars .

    Well, in the novel version anyway., when they had fallen in to the trash compactor.

    It's sort of like watching re-runs of " The Young Ones " , where the meals are lentils, cornflakes, baked beans on toast, and cups of tea.

      7 months ago
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