Sadiq Khan sounds alarm over pingdemic threat to Tube, food supplies and bin collections


adiq Khan has warned of his rising concerns over the “pingdemic” disrupting London’s “absolutely crucial” public transport, food supplies and bin collection services.

The Mayor’s intervention on Thursday came as the “pinging” crisis grew with Boris Johnson being urged to hold a meeting of Whitehall’s Cobra emergency committee to consider deploying the Army if necessary as a “last resort” to ensure supermarket shelves are not left empty in the coming weeks.

Mr Khan called on the Government to examine bringing forward from August 16 changes to the guidance so that double-jabbed essential workers do not have to self-isolate if they are “pinged” by the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app.

The Mayor told the Evening Standard: “I am increasingly concerned about our ability to maintain current levels of absolutely crucial services like public transport, food supplies and bin collections.”

Later he told LBC Radio: “We are talking to the Government about whether they are able to extend the exemption scheme so those key workers across our city — not just Transport for London but police, fire, food supplies — if they have had both jabs and they have had a negative test, if they can continue working.”

* The Government was rushing out a list of sectors for which the self-isolation rules would be relaxed, although Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it would be “very narrow”.

* Supermarkets urged customers not to panic buy in response to reports of emptying shelves for some ranges such as fresh produce in some stores, saying they are continuing to receive regular deliveries. Mr Kwarteng said he did not “recognise” reports of widespread shortages. But Iceland boss Richard Walker said the Government should be “panicking” to resolve the crisis which has seen more than 500,000 people “pinged” in just a week.

* After the closure of the Metropolitan line last weekend and restrictions on the Circle, and Waterloo & City lines, RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch warned that more disruption was “inevitable”.

* Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Commons defence committee, said: “The urgency of staff shortages now impacting on supermarkets and by extension national food distribution warrants a Cobra meeting today for which the deployment of the Army to assist in HGV driver shortfall should be a last resort option considered.” Mr Kwarteng told LBC Radio: “As far as I know we’re not looking at bringing in troops.”

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