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Coronavirus latest: Rationing may be on cards if people don’t ‘calm down’

© Jane Barlow/PA Wirerationing
Shoppers queue outside the Asda Superstore at Straiton, Edinburgh, during the coronavirus outbreak

Environment Secretary George Eustice yesterday urged the public to shop responsibly and refused to rule out rationing.

He said in a Downing Street press conference yesterday that people need to “calm down” and “only buy what they need”.

Panic buyers across Britain have been stripping supermarket shelves, forcing companies to restrict the sale of items such anti-bacterial wipes, dried pasta and toilet roll to customers.

Asked if he could rule out the possibility of rationing or ration books, Mr Eustice said that supermarkets were best placed to judge what stock item limits should be put in place.

“There’s no shortage of food. Food manufacturing has geared up to meet an increase in demand and it is up by 50%.”

Many stores have made the first hour of opening for the elderly but there have been angry scenes amid empty shelves at many stores around Scotland.

NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis said the country should be “ashamed” that key medical staff were left unable to buy food at the end of their shifts.

He referred to a video posted online by a critical care nurse in tears after she was unable to find anything to buy to eat at the end of her shift.

He said: “Frankly we should all be ashamed that that has to happen. These are the very people we will all need to look after perhaps us or our loved ones in the weeks ahead.

“It is critical that by not stockpiling, by not selfishly shopping, that our health workers are able to get access to what they need too.”

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Supermarkets are working hard to fill the shelves but the rest of us could help by not buying more than we actually need.”