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Matt Hancock urges shoppers to 'be responsible' as supermarkets warn against coronavirus stockpiling

2 min read

The Health Secretary has called on the British public to "be responsible" as supermarkets urged shoppers not to stockpile goods amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Matt Hancock said the Government could take "further measures" to curb the practice, amid reports of empty shelves in stores across the country.

The British Retail Consortium on Sunday called on shoppers to limit their purchases in a bid to halt shortages. 

An unprecedented letter by the group said: "We ask everyone to be considerate in the way they shop.

"We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without. There is enough for everyone if we all work together."

While Mr Hancock said he was "confident" that the supply of food would continue throughout the crisis, he urged the public not to resort to hoarding goods.

He told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "What I can guarantee is that we'll work with the supermarkets to make sure that people get enough and, you know, I understand why people might be stocking up. But people have got to behave responsibly."

And he added: "I think the supermarkets are right to write the letter, calling on people to be responsible and to consider the impact that their stocking up might have on others.

"And we of course stand ready to take further measures if that's necessary."

Environment Secretary George Eustice will hold talks with supermarket bosses on Monday in a bid to ensure food supplies are safeguarded. 

Restrictions on online shopping deliveries have already been eased, while supermarket chain Aldi has moved to restrict shoppers to four items of every product.

A YouGov survey for The Sunday Times found that 14% of those polled admitted to stockpiling goods, with tinned food, pasta and toilet roll given as the most-hoarded items.

The study also found that almost two-thirds of the public (63%) would support the introduction of food rationing as the Government responds to the outbreak.

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