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  • we'll take you straight to Downing Street Now Press in England and Helen Dickinson from the British Retail Consortium Andi.

  • I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the food supply chain on the steps that we are all taking to ensure that everyone has access to the food that they need.

  • We recognize that this is a challenging time and that there are many things that the government is asking the nation to do differently as we work together to fight this pandemic.

  • However, there is one message I want to start with loud and clear this afternoon, which is be responsible when you shop and think of others.

  • Buying more than you need means that others may be left without.

  • And it is making life more difficult for those frontline workers, such as our doctors and nurses and N hs support staff who are working so hard in such difficult circumstances.

  • So as you show up, think of those who are finishing their late shifts on need to pop to the local shop at the end of a long day Today, the prime minister and I have spoken to the retail sector.

  • There is more than enough food to go around on.

  • Our food supply chain is able to expand production to cope with increased demand.

  • In the last week, sales of some foods of increased significantly on manufacturers have produced around 50% more food than they usually would.

  • There is no shortage of food available on Maura's arriving at shops every day, But the challenge that all of our retailers have faced is keeping shelves stocked throughout the day in the face off increased purchasing behavior.

  • We all have a role to play in ensuring that we come through this together.

  • So the government has taken steps to set aside rules restricting delivery to stores and relaxed restrictions on drug on got driver hours so that more good can be delivered to every store every day.

  • And we have also set aside competition rules so that supermarkets can coordinate their efforts locally, sharing staff, sharing delivery vehicles and coordinating their store opening times to ensure that food reaches every part of the country.

  • We've also waived the plastic bag charge on on on off for online purchases to speed up deliveries.

  • Our retailers and food producers who supplied them are working around the clock to keep shelf stocked and the nation fit.

  • Supermarkets are recruiting more staff, protecting shopping time for older and vulnerable people on limiting shopping hours so they have more time to restock.

  • And I want to take this opportunity to thank all those staff working in our supermarkets.

  • And food business is up and down the country today who are doing so much to deliver such a crucial service to us all.

  • But as the Prime Minister has said many times, we need every citizen of this country to play their part too.

  • Some supermarkets have put in place purchase limits on some items to ensure that there is fair trading on that their shells remain stopped for longer.

  • Everyone must respect such measures on respect.

  • The staff working in these shops who are doing their best to ensure that both you and your neighbors get the food supplies that you need.

  • Thank you.

  • I'd like to pass over to Helena.

  • Thank you.

  • Thank you.

  • I'm just to pick up on on a couple of points there.

  • Firstly, I mean, you don't need you don't need me to tell you about the sort of levels of unprecedented demand that we've all seen on.

  • I really wanted Thio reassure everybody that people right across the food industry, from growers, packers producers, the distributor's drivers on the people right at the front line in our stores are doing everything they can to make sure that we have the food food that we will need.

  • And it's almost like we're seeing basically a peak in demand like Christmas without the four month buildup in planning that you would normally have in advance.

  • And we've been able to do that in two weeks that there is plenty of food in the supply chain.

  • The issue is around people and Laurie's so getting that food right into the front line onto our shelves, which is why we've seen shortages in some areas across across lots of different different lines in different different areas of the country.

  • What's been vital over the last few days is the dialogue that we've had with government.

  • They really listened carefully to the things that people across the industry have highlighted that would make it easier to to increase capacity.

  • They've The key is, I guess, not just that listening, but being able to act quickly and George's highlighted there a couple of things.

  • I mean, for example, Lifting curfew hours for deliveries has enabled much more Lorries to get through the supply chain and into stores more quickly.

  • And there's a whole list of things where we've raised an issue, and it's been addressed quickly on.

  • I think that is going to be vital as we go forward over the over the coming few weeks.

  • And I think they, you know, the food retailers that I'm talking to every one every day on on the court with the prime minister earlier really wanted to undermine underlying that message about encouraging everybody to really be considerate in what they buy.

  • Make sure that they only buy what they need.

  • There is there is a £1,000,000,000 more food in people's houses than there was three weeks ago.

  • So we should make sure way ate some of it on, be considerate and also think about other people right across your communities and how we can all help them in making sure that they can pick up on get their shopping.

  • And so I think it's much Maura about how we all work together.

  • Thio t rise to the challenges that we're facing.

  • Thank you, Helen.

  • Thank you.

  • So So I would just like to make a plea on behalf of all my colleagues in the N.

  • H s.

  • Nurses, doctors, paramedics and many, many others who are working incredibly hard at the moment to manage this outbreak of Corona virus on are preparing for the surge that they know will be coming at them.

  • It's incredibly important that they, too, have access to food to those essential supplies that they need.

  • I'm sure many of you will have seen a video posted on social media yesterday by Dawn, a critical care nurse who was in tears at the end of a long shift because she could not get access to the supplies that she needed.

  • Andi, frankly, we should all be ashamed that that has to happen.

  • It's unacceptable thes air, the very people that we will all lead to look after, perhaps us or our loved ones in the weeks ahead.

  • It's critical that by not stockpiling by not selfishly shopping by leaving those supplies for others to that our health workers are able to get access to what they need to.

  • These are the people that we will all be relying on more than we ever have done in the weeks ahead.

  • Okay, thanks.

  • I'm Nick early.

  • Thanks very much.

  • Secretary State, many of the please that we made so far have fallen on deaf ears.

  • Is the government prepared to some point intervene on, perhaps introduce compulsory limits on what people can buy?

  • In a supplementary question, if I may, many people will be open about today from walk with the families and we'll see parks absolutely packed with other people.

  • Is that safe?

  • And should people be taking further measures to distance from others in public spaces, I'll answer the first point it may refer to to Stephen on the second.

  • The reality is that most of the supermarkets are already off their own accord, and they discussed this putting limits on certain items.

  • So I don't think it is necessary or appropriate for the government to take this.

  • Different stores on different items are working together to identify what inappropriate limit is today.

  • I'm asking everybody to respect what those supermarkets are doing.

  • They are trying to ensure that their shelves don't go empty early in the morning on to do that and achieve that they are putting item limits for certain goods, and it's very important that everybody respects that more food is arriving every day.

  • There's no shortage of food production at The crucial thing is that we need people.

  • Thio come down and buy only what they need and to think of others when they are purchasing.

  • Joan.

  • Thank you, Jon Craig's quite Earth Sky News.

  • Mr.

  • Eustis hasn't more pressure being put on supermarkets by the decision to close pubs, cafes and restaurants on a medical question, if I may.

  • For Mr Paris, we've broadcast on Sky News in the past hour an interview with a bleeding ear, nose and throat consultant.

  • That's Professor Nirmal Kumar, whose revealed some new symptoms for the cove it 19.

  • Ah, loss of smell or taste.

  • I'm not sure if you're familiar with this, Andi says.

  • Two of his senior colleagues are suffering from this Andi.

  • He's very concerned about the risk to senior frontline medics on.

  • I wondered if you were you aware of this, and I wondered if what action you at your organization taking to protect frontline medics from these new symptoms on the first point?

  • The truth is that has already bean a significant switch in the last three weeks to people purchasing from supermarkets rather than eating act the further announcements that were made yesterday Ah, judge necessary to control the progress off this disease and in order to protect our N H s.

  • That's why we've taken at the further step of closing those public venues.

  • But it's a relatively small amount.

  • We judge off the increased demand in supermarkets.

  • To date, the biggest increase in demand is from a small number of people who have bean stockpiling certain goods.

  • And indeed, we estimate that in the past three weeks, around a £1,000,000,000 worth of additional food has been put into households that has not yet being consumed.

  • The question of symptoms Like many viruses that give infections of the upper respiratory tracts of that's the nose and the throat, there's a range of symptoms.

  • The two communist are by far cough on a fever.

  • And that's exactly why, though, that they are the two symptoms that we are asking people to self isolate if they get those symptoms, so those of the communists symptoms in terms of staff protection, it's incredibly important that staff followed the advice from the experts of Public Health England, who have described the protection in terms of personal protection, protective equipment, equipment that staff should take.

  • And, of course, that is what will protect staff from, uh ah, getting a Corona virus just just coming back to the demand point.

  • I think many of the businesses that that service all those customers have operations right across Europe, on Bacon, look and see what's happened to demand in the days post into significant announcements like the one that was made yesterday by the prime minister.

  • And what we've seen in Ireland, for example, is that that demand is spikes again after the announcement, but then now is beginning to actually trail off.

  • So it gives a lot of comfort that that's what we're going to see here is well, in terms of trends, calls in and thank you Secretary State called in from ITV news at one for each of your experts, if you don't mind Helen.

  • First of all, you said, the problem is people on Lori's.

  • What are you doing to address that shortage of people in Lorries?

  • Is there something government can do?

  • For example, is this a job for the M o d.

  • Perhaps one for you, Steve, If you don't mind, I gather Nice has just issued guidance, saying that doctor should base admission to critical care beds on the patient's chances off recovery.

  • Are doctors already having to make those sorts of difficult decisions to turn some people away?

  • And if it hasn't started already, how soon do you see that happening?

  • Social actually kick off.

  • I'm certainly in terms of people.

  • What the industry is doing is making sure that everybody that can be put into the front line is in is being sort of redirected to ensure that we've all got the food we need.

  • We've got examples of many people from head office.

  • Is off businesses going into into stores into the warehouses in order to support their colleagues on on the Lorries.

  • I mean, that was an issue in terms of driver hours, one of the areas that was talked about very early on with George and his team in ensuring that we had the flexibility to be able to increase the capacity within that bit of the supply chain.

  • Um, I just add on that point that we're also helping to facilitate discussions between retailers and those in the food service sector.

  • So it's important to note that the decision to close pubs and restaurants and so on that means that there is some surplus delivery capacity and indeed staff with expertise in food.

  • Who could be a redeployed from those companies too.

  • The retail sector, which is off she's seeing an increase in demand request on the MOT for deliveries no way, are obviously giving increasingly thought within government to how we will protect those who may be self isolating because they're vulnerable on.

  • I know that more will be said about this in due course.

  • So so doctors and other clinicians are very used to having discussions with patients and relatives about treatment choices on frankly, our aim is to make sure that we're in a position that those discussions are, as they have always bean.

  • But the way we will do that to be absolutely clear, it's for everybody in society to follow the guidance that the government has given in reducing social contacts because that will reduce the transmission.

  • The spread of the virus will reduce the number of deaths on the pressure on the N HS.

  • Yes, we are working night and day to increase capacity, but an increase in capacity and the reducing demand that will come from everybody paying attention young and old to the guidance that's being given will give us the best possible chance that doctors and clinicians can have those discussions in the way they've always had them.

  • Hurry.

  • Thank you, Secretary State Utah euphemistically have purchased limits and respecting these thes rules.

  • But the track record of the last two weeks has bean that people haven't actually been listening the government until they're obliged to do so.

  • Can you today rule out 100% any need for state back rationing of any goods in the coming weeks?

  • And secondly, the Chinese authorities have led us to believe that they've almost wiped out Corona virus.

  • Now, with no new cases daily, have you seen anything within government within Cabinet?

  • Thio suggest that those figures aren't necessarily true.

  • So on your first point, as I said earlier, all of the major retailers are working together and exercising their own judgment about where it's appropriate to put limits item limits on certain certain certain issues.

  • So toilet roll is one where for reasons that are not really understood.

  • There was a big spike in purchasing quite early on, despite the fact that toilet roll is made here in this country on, they're able to expand production very, very quickly.

  • But that is an item where to ensure that the goods remained on the shelves, the supermarkets together took a position of putting an item limit.

  • I think it is best for the retailers to flexibly come together and decide what the appropriate limit is for each item, because this is a changing scenario, Ondas Helen pointed out.

  • We know from other countries such as Ireland, for instance, and France that once people have stopped up their homes, those who are concerned once they have stocked up with some food, then actually this surge in demand starts to taper off on.

  • When that happens, then the retailers would want to react flexibly to adjust to that the limits that they've put in place.

  • Can I pick up on that just before the handover to Stephen and the the re lax ation in competition.

  • Nor, I think, is given the the forum to be ableto have the conversations amongst the different businesses to share ideas on, then actually for each business to implement the thing that works best for their customer base.

  • And that isn't necessarily the same for for for every business, I think where where there are different issues and they need to all come together and do the same thing, then that may be appropriate.

  • But I think in terms of sort of limits on individual items, what's happened so far is that individual businesses have really looked at the way that their business operates the interactions that they have with their customers and made sure that what they've done is the thing that's gonna make most different.

  • Thio that customer base.

  • And I think looking at those countries such as China, that that got this disease early on Dhe.

  • Their experience is that it is possible to develop strategies to suppress and to reduce the virus.

  • Different countries take slightly different approaches, but to be honest, they all have the same scientific basis, which is to reduce the spread on the transmission off the virus in the community so that fewer people infected the fewer people who are infected.

  • The fewer deaths, the fewer the pressure on the less the pressure on health service is so the advice in this country, which is follows that scientific basis and is on the best possible evidence is it absolutely designed to suppress and reduce the virus on to reduce the number of people infected.

  • So I think you can see strategies that effective Andi go back to what I said earlier.

  • That's why it is absolutely crucial that everybody in the country follows the guidance it's being given.

  • It's not for somebody else to follow.

  • It's for you to follow its lead to follow.

  • It's for everybody to follow.

  • This is all our problems alarm problem, and if we do it together, it will be an effective strategy.

  • You do it.

  • If you follow the advice, you are saving somebody's life.

  • This is the time in your lifetime where, by your action for save somebody's life, it's a simple and a stock.

  • Is that David and David winning The Sun on Sunday?

  • You've already given told us how much has been stockpiled in people's houses.

  • Is it possible Secretary of State to give us an idea if panic buying continued at the current rate, how long it would be before we run out of food in this country.

  • One little added to that fresh fruits and vegetables is gonna be a problem this summer with them getting, uh, casual workers into to grow to pick fruit and veg for for the autumn.

  • We're on the four former point, as I said, and as Helen explained, the food supply chain is actually used to dealing with spikes in demand, not least every Christmas.

  • There is a surge in demand, and in the last three weeks they've seen surges that are similar to that on food.

  • Manufacturers have responded by increasing their production by after my 50% so we don't think there is a risk of food running out.

  • The challenge we have is getting food to the shelves and keeping it there.

  • Which is why the supermarkets have taken a number of steps to coordinate their activities and why we've taken a number of steps.

  • Thio.

  • Make sure we can get more food delivered to more supermarkets.

  • Maur quickly on your second point.

  • It is the case that we will surely be moving into a period from around May onwards when we start to get increased U K production that some of the labor and agriculture moves around from different sectors.

  • So there's already quite a lot of staff that will be working in fields in Lincolnshire, for instance, on the winter vegetable industry and also in places like Cornwall.

  • Andi Way anticipate that we'll be able to provide the labor necessary to ensure that we can continue that harvest.

  • Can I Can I just pick up on that?

  • And I think what we all need to recognize is that we may know, always be able to buy exactly the normal things that we would on that actually, there will be less choice than perhaps there has otherwise been.

  • But there is that, you know there is.

  • I mean, I was in my local supermarket this morning on dhe.

  • I didn't get my my normal list of my shop, but there was plenty of other things that I bought instead.

  • So it wasn't like there was nothing available.

  • And I think the other thing about capacity.

  • We've certainly seen that the production capacity has increased by about 50% on even on the phone this morning.

  • Many of the businesses that also have manufacturing and producing as part of their supply chain are saying that they are now looking at how they can continue to grow that over the coming days and weeks.

  • David this.

  • Thank you.

  • But we've heard reports of how ready made pies of being sold online.

  • Sometimes for around £30.

  • It's something no one ever expected to see.

  • G.

  • Are you concerned that she profiteering?

  • It could be going on on dhe if needs be?

  • Is there a plan to tackle profiteering and perhaps in the worst case, if it gets too looting?

  • And is there a plan that's ready made?

  • If rationing does need to be introduced?

  • Well, I might ask, um, talented to comment on this point, but I would just say this.

  • Over the last two weeks, I've been in almost daily contact with all of our major retailers.

  • They are working in quite challenging situations and really stepped up on worked collectively to ensure that we get food to people.

  • We're not seen any widespread evidence yet off that kind of increase in pricing, but we keep it close.

  • I on that.

  • I think the most important thing is, Helen said, that we envisage is being a temporary spike in demand.

  • If other countries anything to go by once people, those people who feel the need to stock up once they have demand will start.

  • Thio Settle e.

  • I have been working in the food and the wider retail industry for more years than I care to remember.

  • But I can I guarantee you that the competitive nature that across across the industry is as as a robust today as it always is.

  • And that is what has enabled Arcelor's as customers to make sure that we continue to you see great value in prices from our retail businesses.

  • I think all of the conversations that are being held are absolutely about making sure that we all have access to the food that we need working with government on the things that would facilitate and enable the changes to to regulations that would facilitate it, enabled toe that to occur more effectively and put get those Lorries on dhe and more capacity available so that the shelves get full.

  • Nigel, we'll take Nigel Nelson, Sunday Mirror Secretary State, that the prime minister talks about doing whatever it takes.