UK’s ‘pingdemic’ hits petrol stations

·3-min read
Some 600,000 people in England and Wales being told to self-isolate last week is impacting petrol stations. Photo: Anthony Devlin/AFP via Getty Images
Some 600,000 people in England and Wales being told to self-isolate last week is impacting petrol stations. Photo: Anthony Devlin/AFP via Getty Images

The ‘pingdemic’ in the UK, where thousands of Brits having to self-isolate is causing a staff shortage, is reportedly leading to supply issues and closures at some petrol stations. The petrol industry is calling for vaccinated workers at forecourts to be exempt from self-isolation.

More and more people are being sent alerts to stay home by the NHS COVID-19 app because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. 

Some 600,000 people in England and Wales being told to self-isolate last week as the Delta variant rips through the country.

This is impacting many sectors, from hospitality and meat production, to cars. The most recent casualty is petrol stations.

BP (BP) told Yahoo Finance UK it is experiencing fuel supply issues at some of its sites due to an industry-wide driver shortage. 

Read more: UK businesses criticise self-isolation changes for food supply chain workers

It has seen a handful of these sites temporarily closed due to a lack of unleaded and diesel petrol, although it had most issues were resolved within a day.

“The situation was exacerbated last week by the temporary closure for a number of days of our Hemel Hempstead fuel distribution terminal due to necessary COVID-19 isolations amongst staff there,” a spokesperson said.

“The terminal is now operating as normal once again,” they added.

"Delivery drivers function in isolation and the risk of infection passing between them and to consumers is very low," Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign, told Yahoo Finance UK.

"Boris’s overzealous pinging policy is palpably hitting the commercial heartbeat of the nation, the fuel delivered to our forecourts needed to deliver us food, goods and our nation’s supplies is now being seriously squeezed."

Shell (RDSB.L) and Tesco (TSCO.L) have reportedly not had any issues. Yahoo Finance UK reached out to the companies and hadn’t heard back at the time of writing.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers' Association, said: "We are well aware of supply issues in shops, primarily as a result of workers who are part of the supply chain including terminal staff, tanker drivers and forecourt staff who have contracted COVID-19 or, more often, pinged to self-isolate."

The association has also said that the government's announcement to exclude essential workers from self-isolation requirements if they have been double vaccinated should be extended to forecourt workers.

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Cox believes this should also apply to drivers who "are an essential service and should be designated as such."

"If 300,000 can attend the British Grand Prix without restrictions, surely a driver and their fuel tanker must be allowed to function for the benefit of all of us.”

Meanwhile a survey from independent job board, CV-Library revealed that more than a third (39.9%) of workers know someone that has been unable to return to work due to being required to isolate in the last four days.

Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library, said: “Such huge disruptions to staffing will cause countless problems for the recovery of the UK economy."

"Many businesses will have to reduce operating hours – or in some cases, close – as capacity will be lower, hindering a much-needed recovery over the summer.”

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