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SBRY - J Sainsbury News Story

282.4p 0.4  0.1%

Last Trade - 17/09/21

Sector
Consumer Defensives
Size
Large Cap
Market Cap £6.58bn
Enterprise Value £11.85bn
Revenue £29.05bn
Position in Universe 154th / 1781

UPDATE 3-'Pingdemic' grips Britain as fears of food shortages grow

Thu 22nd July, 2021 7:32am
* British minister: We're concerned about 'pingdemic'
    * Food supplies could fail, meat industry says 
    * Iceland closes some stores due to staff shortages
    * Sainsbury's says customers may not get exact product they
want
    * BP says some sites temporarily closed due to lack of fuel

 (Adds Sainsbury's, BP comment)
    By Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey
    LONDON, July 22 (Reuters) - Britain's supermarkets,
wholesalers and hauliers were struggling on Thursday to ensure
stable food and fuel supplies after an official health app told
hundreds of thousands of workers to isolate after contact with
someone with COVID-19.
    Coronavirus cases in Britain have been broadly rising for a
month, with more than 44,000 recorded on Wednesday.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL9N2DZ01C
    British newspapers carried front-page pictures of empty
shelves in supermarkets. Reuters reporters said food items were
widely available in London shops although there were some
shortages of bottled water, soft drinks, and some salad and meat
products. 
    "We're very concerned about the situation," Business
Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky when asked about reports of
empty supermarket shelves in some areas. "We're monitoring the
situation."
    He said he did not recognise Sky's characterisation of
"bare" supermarket shelves.
    Britain's second-largest supermarket group Sainsbury's
 SBRY.L  said customers would generally be able to find the
products they want, though perhaps not every brand.
    "We are working hard to ensure customers can find what they
need," said a Sainsbury's spokesperson.
    "While we might not always have the exact product a customer
is looking for in every store, large quantities of products are
being delivered to stores daily and our colleagues are focused
on getting them onto the shelves as quickly as they can."
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bet that he could reopen
England's economy because so many people have been vaccinated
has been tarnished by the "pingdemic" in which people have been
told by the contact-tracing app to isolate for 10 days.
    The drastic reduction in staffing that has resulted has sown
chaos through sectors as diverse as food supplies, haulage,
supermarkets, hospitality, manufacturing and media. To avoid 
disruption, many have simply deleted the app from their phones. 
    British ministers say the app plays an important role in
countering the spread of the virus and has allowed some workers
in critical roles to carry on working.
    The country has the world's seventh-highest COVID-19 death
toll and record new infections are forecast following the July
19 lifting of restrictions in England, characterised by Johnson
as "freedom day".  
    But a rapid vaccination programme that has seen 87% of
adults receive one vaccine dose and more than 68% two doses
appears to have weakened the link between infections and deaths,
with daily fatalities remaining relatively low.
    
    ON THE EDGE
    Many businesses said the situation was becoming grave.
    Britain's food supply chains are "right on the edge of
failing" as absence related to COVID-19 has aggravated a
critical shortage of labour, a meat industry body said on
Wednesday.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2OX24E
    Supermarket group Iceland said it has closed a number of
stores due to staff shortages.
    "We have a structural issue with (a shortage of) HGV drivers
for a variety of different reasons, but of course the pingdemic
has made it even worse," Managing Director Richard Walker told
ITV. "We are starting to see some availability issues."
    Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at industry
lobby group, the British Retail Consortium, said the government
needed to act swiftly.
    "Retail workers and suppliers, who have played a vital role
throughout this pandemic, should be allowed to work provided
they are double vaccinated or can show a negative COVID test, to
ensure there is no disruption to the public's ability to get
food and other goods," he said.
    BP  BP.L  said it had to temporarily close a handful of
sites due to a lack of fuel, with the shortage of HGV drivers
being exacerbated by COVID-19 isolations.

 (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and James Davey; Editing by
Kate Holton and Catherine Evans)
 ((guy.faulconbridge@thomsonreuters.com; 07825218698))
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