LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government said on Wednesday it would relax rules this month for how long truck drivers can work, as a temporary fix for a severe shortage of qualified heavy goods vehicle (HGV) operators as the economy reopens from its coronavirus lockdowns.
“We’re aware of a shortage of HGV drivers, so I’m announcing a temp extension of drivers’ hours rules from Mon. 12 July, giving flexibility to drivers & operators to make slightly longer journeys” transport minister Grant Shapps said.
“We’ve ramped up the number of driving tests available & will consider other measures,” he said on Twitter.
Premier Foods, one of Britain’s biggest food companies, last week called on the government to consider using the army to distribute goods.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted many foreign workers to return home during lockdown, and new immigration controls after Brexit has led to staff shortages in logistics and other sectors such as construction and hospitality.
Industry leaders have warned Britain could face gaps on supermarket shelves this summer and a collapse of supply chains.
(Reporting by William Schomberg; editing by Michael Holden)