// George Eustice MP urges shoppers to leave bags for life at home to prevent coronavirus spread
// Supermarkets have urged the government to waive the 5p carrier bag charge
// The government is understood to be considering the idea
Environment Secretary George Eustice has reportedly said consumers risk speeding up the spread of coronavirus by bringing their own reusable bags into stores.
The news comes as supermarkets urged the government to waive the 5p carrier bag charge as a potential measure against the spread of coronavirus.
The proposal was initiated by a supermarket boss on Monday, during talks with Defra secretary Eustice, The Grocer reported.
- Coronavirus: Ex-Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King warns of grocery shortages
- Morrisons to immediately pay small suppliers amid coronavirus pandemic
- “I don’t think anybody needs to panic buy”: Tesco chair John Allan
The government is understood to be considering the idea but is not yet “at the point of making a decision”.
During the briefing, Eustice discussed how supermarkets could ramp up online grocery deliveries and click & collect services as the UK prepared for a week of self-isolation to anyone with persistent coughs or colds.
Following the meeting, the government did agree to lifting restrictions on local authority restrictions on night-time deliveries to stores.
Elsewhere, Tesco chairman John Allan said on Friday that consumers should not panic over coronavirus “as food is plentiful”.
Speaking to BBC Radio, Allan said that although Tesco’s recent trading had been characterised by heavy buying of certain products, including tissues and hand sanitisers, it was not at a level that threatened the retailer’s supply chain.
However, Sainsbury’s former chief executive Justin King warned grocers on Wednesday of likely shortages due to coronavirus outbreak.
He said many fresh food production systems are dependent on labour on a day-to-day basis.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to affect the retail sector, Italy, which has so far reported 1016 deaths, amid a total number 15,113 infections, has seen all of its retailers close their doors following a lockdown – further impacting trading.
Italy is the worst affected European country in the coronavirus pandemic, and the second-worst globally.