Britain is likely to unveil plans to give temporary visas to truck drivers in order to address a severe labor shortage that has resulted in fuel rationing at certain gas stations and store warnings of major disruptions in the run-up to Christmas.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said it was considering interim steps to solve the lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers as lines formed outside gas stations early Saturday.
According to media reports, the government will allow up to 5,000 foreign drivers into the nation on short-term visas, a move that logistics businesses and merchants had been clamoring for months but that the administration has previously dismissed.
According to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), Britain requires 100,000 additional drivers to satisfy demand. Brexit and Covid-19, as well as the loss of approximately a year of driver training and testing, have contributed to the driver shortage.
“We’re looking at interim steps to prevent any immediate issues,” a spokesperson for Johnson’s Downing Street office said in a statement. “Any steps we take will be strictly time-limited.”
Downing Street refused to provide any further information.
Ministers have warned against panic purchasing, while oil firms have stated that there is no lack of supply, only issues with getting the fuel to the petrol stations.
Long queues of vehicles have formed at gas stations to fill up after BP announced that some of its outlets had to close due to driver shortages.
Pumps at certain Shell stations have gone empty, and Esso, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, has indicated that a limited number of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail outlets had been impacted in some way.
Due to “exceptional consumer demand,” EG Group, which operates hundreds of forecourts across the United Kingdom, said on Friday that it will impose a £30 ($41) per customer fuel purchase restriction.
“We have adequate fuel inventories in this nation,” a Downing Street spokesperson stated, assuring the public that there are no shortages.
“However, we, like other countries around the world, are currently suffering a temporary Covid-related driver scarcity, which is preventing us from transferring supplies throughout the country.”
The fuel problem arises as Britain, the world’s fifth-largest economy deals with a jump in European natural gas prices, which has resulted in skyrocketing energy prices and a probable food shortage.
Truck driver shortages are also a problem in other nations, such as the United States and Germany.
According to Britain, the long-term solution is to attract more British drivers, with the RHA saying that better pay and conditions are necessary to draw workers into the sector.
However, the retail industry has warned that unless the government takes action to solve the shortfall over the next 10 days, substantial disruption in the run-up to Christmas will be unavoidable.