Huge queues form outside shops and crowds pack into supermarkets

Huge queues form outside shops and crowds pack into supermarkets on the second last day before Christmas as Tesco limits sales of eggs, rice, soap and toilet roll amid fears food shortages could run into next week

  • Shoppers were out in force as they raced to stock up on essential goods in the lead-up to December 25 
  • Customers seen queuing outside of a butchers in Cambridgeshire and thronging Asda store in London
  • With around 4,000 trucks stranded, ministers believe backlog may not be cleared until after Christmas 

Huge queues formed outside shops and crowds packed into supermarkets today – as Tesco put limits on sales of eggs, rice, soap and toilet roll in response to panic buying.

Pictures of empty shelves at supermarkets have emerged this week following warnings there could be shortages of certain foods including salad, vegetables and fresh fruit due to chaos at Dover.

Continuing anarchy at the port today prompted warnings the delivery backlog may not clear for several days, suggesting shortages of certain goods could continue until after Christmas. 

Shoppers were out in force this morning as they raced to stock up on the second last day before Christmas, with customers seen forming a long line outside a butchers in Cambridgeshire and thousands of people thronging an Asda branch in London.

Tesco told customers yesterday it was introducing the temporary limits on certain essentials ‘to help all customers have access to these products’.

CEO Jason Tarry added that it still had ‘good availability’ on fresh products imported from France such as lettuce, cauliflower and citrus fruit and urged customers to ‘shop as you normally would’, citing strong stock levels.

A deal has finally been struck with France after a ban on arrivals from the UK was imposed by President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, but the requirement for every driver to be tested is slowing down movement.

Today saw fights breaking out between lorry drivers and police at the Port of Dover and Manston Airport amid growing frustration. 

Customers queuing to collect their Christmas turkey from the local butcher in the village of Haddenham in Cambridgeshire this morning

A packed Asda on the Old Kent Road in central London this morning on the second to last shopping day before Christmas 

Tesco maintains in-store limits on flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes are due to coronavirus panic buying – not concerns about the impending Brexit deadline or problems at Dover 

MailOnline today contacted all the major supermarkets to ask if they had also put new restrictions in place. Empty shelves at Asda in Newhaven, Edinburgh

Sainsbury’s, M&S, Morrisons and Aldi all said no, while Waitrose said had been restricting customers to two packs of toilet roll and three bags of flour for ‘a substantial period of time’. Lidl is yet to reply. Pictured: Empty shelves at Asda in Newhaven, Edinburgh

MailOnline today contacted all the major supermarkets to ask if they had also put new restrictions in place.

Sainsbury’s, M&S, Morrisons and Aldi all said no, while Waitrose said had been restricting customers to two packs of toilet roll and three bags of flour for ‘a substantial period of time’. Lidl is yet to reply.

All supermarkets said they had plenty of stock.

Tesco maintains in-store limits on flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes are due to coronavirus panic buying – not concerns about the impending Brexit deadline or problems at Dover.

There are concerns over shortages of fresh goods amid the backlog at Dover.

British Retail Consortium director of food Andrew Opie said: ‘It is good news for consumers as the French borders have now reopened, however it is essential that lorries get moving across the border as quickly as possible.

‘Until the backlog is cleared and supply chains return to normal, we anticipate issues with the availability of some fresh goods.’

All the ingredients and produce needed for a traditional Christmas dinner are already in the country and available to consumers, the BRC said.

But if empty lorries are not allowed into France to restock, there will be shortages of fresh produce, with supplies of salad, vegetables and fresh fruit such as strawberries and raspberries most at risk as they are typically imported from the continent at this time of year.

It came as dozens of truckers trying to reach their homes on the Continent tried to force their way past officers guarding the port of Dover.

Hundreds left their cabs and walked along the A20 to the port entrance in Kent at 8am today jeering and whistling, with some shouting in English: ‘Open the border’, ‘We just want to go home’ and ‘F*** you, Boris!’

At one point several of them surged forwards towards a line of Kent Police officers who were forced to push them back as days of simmering anger at the chaotic situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic bubbled to the surface. Some drivers showed police apparently negative results, but an officer said a lot of them were ‘fake test sheets’.

Tensions also boiled over 18 miles away at Manston Airport, where truckers whose lorries are being held staged a protest, broke down fences and blocked roads.

The Army and NHS staff are working together to administer Covid-19 tests at the airport, which are handed to drivers in their cabs to be self-administered under supervision.

A sign by toilet paper in a Tesco Extra in south-east London saying purchases of the product are being limited after panic buying

CEO Jason Tarry added that it still had ‘good availability’ on fresh products imported from France, although panic buyers have emptied some of the shelves 

 Customers queuing to collect their Christmas turkey from the local butcher in the village of Haddenham in Cambridgeshire today

Fortunately France and Britain reached a deal on Tuesday night allowing lorries to cross The Channel, provided they have a negative Covid test to hand

Tesco says the limit is in place in light of Covid-19 restrictions, not due to concerns over Brexit, or major delays at the Port of Dover 

Tesco has reminded shoppers about a three-item limit on products including flour, dried pasta, toilet roll, baby wipes and anti-bacterial wipes

Shoppers at a Tesco Extra in south-east London. Supermarkets previously rationed items in response to panic buying during the early months of the pandemic 

The result will then be communicated to the driver via text or email, identifying them via their numberplate.

Two more test sites were today being set up at the Dreamland amusement park in Margate and at the entrance to the Port of Dover, but the junction was blocked by vans and cars with some even parked in the wrong direction.

Earlier this month it was revealed Tesco was stockpiling in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

John Allan, the chairman of Tesco, believes the average shopping bill could go up five per cent and also claimed French cheeses like brie could be 40 per cent more expensive if there is no EU trade deal.

But critics have said there is plenty of British brie to eat and the UK is already importing 20 per cent less cheese from abroad every year.

Mr Allan, who joined the supermarket last year, said: ‘Tesco is getting ready for the worst case which is a No Deal, trying to ensure as much as we can that we stockpile long life products either in our warehouses or with our suppliers.

‘We are trying to minimise the risk of food being caught in what is probably going to be the most difficult place, which is the port of Dover.

‘We may have some shortages of fresh foods, particularly short life fresh foods. I think that will only be for a limited period, a month or two before we get back to normal.

‘There might just be slightly restricted choice for a period of time’.   

Earlier this month it was revealed Tesco was stockpiling in the event of a No Deal Brexit, while Tier 4 Londoners were still able to visit their local shop on the Old Kent Road yesterday (pictured)

Almost 3,000 lorries were stranded in Kent following France’s travel ban, which was announced on Sunday. The news caused some people to stock up on supplies 

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