Britain is scrambling to avoid a second lockdown after its first one six months ago, with PM Boris Johnson just introducing expanded new social distancing rules across the UK, as the government's top adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warns "the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days."
Specifically the latest surge in COVID-19 cases at current rates could mean 50,000 cases a day by mid-October, Vallance warned at the start of the week. In introducing new measures to fight the spread Tuesday night, Johnson urged citizens to "summon discipline, resolve and a spirit of togetherness." The new measures will last a whopping six months with warnings of "a difficult winter" — also at a moment total infection numbers approach the half-million mark (as of Wednesday: 409,729 people tested positive since the start, including 41,862 deaths).
However all the dire pandemic predictions have naturally resulted in a surge of panic buying, similar to what happened across the West and in the United States as lockdowns hit last Spring.
"Supermarket bosses have urged shoppers not to start panic buying, while Asda is bringing in 1,000 safety marshals, as the industry braces for a potential change in shopping habits ahead of new lockdown restrictions," The Guardian reports late Wednesday.
Discount supermarket chains Tesco and Aldi urged customers this week not to start stockpiling goods, saying was “unnecessary” and seeking to calm fears of disruption in supply chains.
Aldi in the UK, for example, posted a public statement saying:
“There is no need to buy more than you usually would. I would like to reassure you that our stores remain fully stocked and ask that you continue to shop considerately.”
“We have remained open for our customers throughout the pandemic and will continue to have daily deliveries, often multiple times a day, across all of our products.”
And CEO Dave Lewis of the popular store Tesco said in a televised interview that Britons should not panic: “The message would be one of reassurance. I think the UK saw how well the food industry managed last time, so there’s very good supplies of food,” he said, describing an improved plan for rapid restocking.
“We just don’t want to see a return to unnecessary panic buying because that creates a tension in the supply chain that’s not necessary,” he added.
Via NPR: If the U.K.'s rate of new coronavirus cases doubles four more times, Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance said, "you would end up with something like 50,000 cases in the middle of October per day."
Given the record number of new cases, the sense of fear and panic is not likely to abate in the short term:
New UK coronavirus cases hit 6,178 on Wednesday, according to the latest government data. The number is the highest daily level since 1 May, when the UK was in full lockdown.
Here were the numbers as of the prime minister's Tuesday night address:
Local UK grocery stores have reported they've started hiring and stationing extra security personnel in preparation to monitor both numbers of shoppers at once, and mask and other guidelines.