UK business groups have warned of the impact of new Covid-19 travel restrictions on their supply chains.
Industry groups and leading firms have said they don’t expect food shortages in the days leading up to Christmas, but they warned of major disruption if the situation is not resolved quickly. Major UK ports have closed after France blocked trucks from travelling out of the UK because of fears of a new Covid-19 variant.
Other European countries have also imposed various travel restrictions on the UK. Brexit means the current trade arrangements between the UK and European Union are due to end on December 31, which could cause further disruption.
“Retailers have stocked up on goods ahead of Christmas which should prevent immediate problems. However, any prolonged closure of the French border would be a problem as the UK enters the final weeks before the transition ends on 31st December," the British Retail Consortium said.
Sainsbury's, one of the UK’s leading supermarket chains, said if nothing changes the UK will start to see gaps over the coming days on lettuce, some salad leaves, cauliflowers, broccoli and citrus fruit -- all of which are imported from the continent at this time of year.
Shane Brennan, the CEO of the Cold Chain Federation, which deals with moving frozen and chilled goods, said “Whilst we face no shortages now, we do need urgent agreements between the UK and EU Governments to find a way to safely allow freight movements to continue. This has been possible at every other stage through the pandemic. An extended period of stopped movement now will cause significant problems for supply chains in January.”