Shoppers urged not to go food shopping in areas affected by new Covid variant

Matt Hancock grilled on effectiveness of Pfizer on variants

Speaking on London-based radio station LBC yesterday morning, Matt Hancock told host Nick Ferrari that people should take extra care in areas affected by the new South African COVID variant. People living in these areas should not go food shopping if possible.

The Health Secretary said that shoppers should do “everything they possibly can to minimise contact”.

Limiting food shopping, Mr Hancock said, was one of the main things people could do to remain safe in the UK locations most affected by the new coronavirus variant.

Going to supermarkets or other food shops should only be done in emergencies.

Mr Hancock said: “If you have food in the house and you therefore don’t have to go shopping, then please don’t go shopping.”

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Despite Mr Hancock’s comments, no changes have been made to the current Government guidelines and restrictions put in place in supermarkets.

Supermarkets and food shops in all areas of the UK are still classed as essential shops, and therefore remain open.

There has been no indication that any will close in the communities affected by the new variant.

Supermarket staff are also still classed as key workers and will continue working in these areas as normal.

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Mobile testing is currently happening in the regions where the South African COVID variant is strife.

The regions include Surrey, Walsall, Kent, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, and parts of London.

Despite his recommendation to avoid food shopping if possible, Mr Hancock added that he was “confident” the new variant could be contained in these areas.

He said: “It’s on all of us and everybody living in those areas to stop the transmission.”

“Key workers do have to go to work, the hospitals still have to run, and so this is about making sure that the rules we have in place are followed absolutely rigorously,” Mr Hancock said.

These rules include wearing a face mask in public spaces, including supermarkets, and following the social distancing measures that have also been put in place in food stores.

The Health Secretary reiterated that stopping food shopping in specific areas is “guidance”.

He added: “If you haven’t got any food then you should go and buy food.”

Mr Hancock also spoke to LBC’s Mr Ferrari about the UK’s vaccine rollout.

He said that Britain has had “challenges” with international supply of the vaccine, and therefore “the more manufactured on shore the easier that’s going to be”.

“The good news is that we have a really really tight contract with those who are supplying the vaccines to us, and I look forward to those being delivered on,” Mr Hancock said.

He added: “We got in there early and we supported the science.”

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