Managing Director of Iceland Foods Richard Walker delivered the dire warning that the “pingdemic” which has seen thousands of Iceland staff requiring to isolate has caused major disruption to keep store stocked. But Mr Walker added the Test and Trace app was not the only problem as many retailers have been struggling with the shortage of HGV drivers which could bring delays to food deliveries. Mr Walker told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he found it “ironic” that without the vaccine programme and Test and Trace last year he was still able to keep stores stocked and did not struggle with supply chains.
The so-called “pingdemic” has seen thousands of people requiring to self-isolate after they had been targeted by the Test and Trace app.
Reports from The Sun and The Telegraph show many shops across the UK fear they will be unable to keep shelves stocked with food as many workers have been forced to self-isolate.
Photos shared online show empty shelves in stores across the country as workers are unable to get food out onto the floor.
Stores are also struggling to find HGV drivers to deliver food across the country with Tesco stating 48 tonnes of food is being wasted by them each week due to the shortage.
Pre-pandemic, there was a shortage of around 600,000 drivers with Brexit and the pandemic increasing that by an extra 100,000.
Mr Walker discussed the issues on Good Morning Britain and said: “Issues around supply chains have been building for quite some time.
“We have a structural issue with HGV drivers for a variety of different reasons but of course the pandemic has made it even worse.
“The sort of double-pronged problem is that our store workers are now getting pinged as well.
“We have over a thousand who’ve been pinged and they’re having to self isolate at home.
“The result of these two issues combined means that we are starting to see some availability issues and it is increasingly very challenging to keep our shops open.
“To keep lorries travelling to our shops to supply food on our shelves and keep stuff in the shops to serve the customers.”
Host Richard Madeley then pointed the “irony” behind the vaccine programme and Test and Trace, supposed to free up and allow things to return to normal, is now restricting businesses.
Mr Walker agreed and said many staff had been “heroic” working through the pandemic where they have kept stores open but now they are being punished by the system and not the actual virus itself.
Supermarkets are urging customers not to panic-buy due to lack of some products and stress not everywhere has been affected badly.
A government spokesperson said: “We are working closely with employers to identify the necessary designated critical workers. This will mean key industries can continue to serve the nation while we maintain our work to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“This is not a blanket exemption for any sector or role. Employers with designated critical workers who are considered to have a valid reason to attend work will be informed by the relevant government department.”