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Pingdemic farce as supermarkets CLOSE as shelves left empty

Iceland has confirmed it has closed a number of stores after staff were alerted as a close Covid contact by the NHS app. The frozen food giant revealed more than 1,000 employees are now currently off work.

BP has also shut some of its petrol stations due to a shortage of fuel supplies.

Meanwhile, sandwich chain Pret A Manger has temporarily shut 17 shops due to staff being forced to self-isolate.

The chaos comes as figures reveal the NHS app “pinged” more than 600,000 people in one week.

Some supermarket shelves across the country have been stripped bare, but bosses insisted the shortage would be temporary as they awaited deliveries.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng reassured Britons there is no need to panic buy.

Iceland’s managing director Richard Walker said the supermarket was having to hire 2,000 temporary workers to prepare for “the exponential rise in pinging”.

He told the Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve now got over 1,000 staff off, who’ve been pinged. That’s double the normal rates, and it’s rising at 50 percent week on week.

“Our big concern is that we’ve kept all of our shops open throughout the pandemic, but now we have had to close one or two shops and reduce hours in others.

The guidance says those people “pinged” by the NHS app will be able to carry on working if their failure to do so would have a “major detrimental impact” or risk national security.

The policy only applies to named workers who are fully vaccinated and it is not a “blanket exemption” for all employees in a sector.

The guidance is intended to operate until August 16, when a wider exemption from self-isolation will apply to fully vaccinated contacts.

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