British gas stations had to close all over the country on Sunday, in a fuel shortage caused by a lack of truck drivers.
Due to a combination of the pandemic, Brexit, and simply a lack of interest in the job among young jobseeking Britons, Britain is experiencing a severe shortage of truck drivers. Before, the majority of truck drivers in England, Scotland, and Wales were from elsewhere in Europe. They were able to work freely in the UK due to its membership in the European Union. But with Britain’s slow and complicated exit from the union, those truck drivers have had to leave the country.
That particular chicken has come home to roost in unexpected ways, such as empty store shelves while product sits in distribution centers, and long, long lines at gas stations.
According to the Petrol Retailers Association, which represents well over 5,000 British gas stations, about two-thirds of stations reported that they sold out of fuel this weekend. All of the rest report that they’ll run out soon if not resupplied. Compounding the problem is a panic-buying public, just like the toilet paper shortages of 2020.
There is no actual shortage, and no risk of anyone going too long without access to fuel, but getting the fuel from terminals and refineries to gas stations and customers is slow and difficult.
“There is plenty of fuel in this country, but it is in the wrong place for the motorists,” said PRA chairman Brian Madderson in an interview with media. “It is still in the terminals and the refineries.”
Lines hours long have formed at many gas stations, with at least one arrest for assault in an altercation over queue-jumping.
To try to help with the problem, the UK’s government has announced it will release 5,000 short-term emergency visas to foreign truck drives, but employers will have to offer competitive pay to lure them back from the Continent.
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