Britain expected to ease visa rules as truck driver shortage bites
Britain is expected to announce plans to issue temporary visas to truck drivers, leading to fuel rationing at some filling stations and warnings from retailers (here) of significant disruption in the run-up Is. Christmas.
As queues began to form outside filling stations early Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said it was looking at temporary measures to address the shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers.
Newspapers reported that the government would allow 5,000 foreign drivers into Britain on short-term visas, a measure that logistics companies and retailers have sought for months, but the government had previously rejected.
The UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) says the UK needs 100,000 more drivers to meet demand. The driver shortage has been partly due to Brexit and COVID-19, and the loss of nearly a year of driver training and testing.
Ministers caution against panic buying, and oil companies say there is no shortage of supplies, only problems with fuel delivery to gas stations.
However, BP said that long lines of vehicles have started gathering at petrol stations after some of its outlets were closed due to driver shortage.
Some Shell stations have also reported pumps drying up, while ExxonMobil’s Esso has also said that a small number of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites were also affected in some way.
Easy Group, which operates hundreds of forecourts across the UK, said on Friday it would impose a 30-pound ($41) purchase limit per customer for the fuel due to “unprecedented customer demand”.
“We have enough fuel reserves in this country and the public should be reassured that there are no shortages,” a Downing Street spokesman said.