UK supermarkets stuggle with staff shortages due to so called 'pingdemic' | ANDY RAIN

As Britain’s NHS Track and Trace app sees the country spiralling into further chaos, beleaguered retailers, restaurateurs and even petrol station owners have been left fuming.

Retailer, Iceland, has lost 1,000 staff to the pinging app which informs the receiver to self-isolate immediately. Many fulltime workers are given a surprise bonus ten-day holiday while their employers lose a valuable member of the workforce.

Café chain, Pret A Manger, has such a depleted workforce that it has been forced to close 17 branches while supermarket chains such as Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Asda are presenting empty shelves as panic buying becomes the rage.

Few food trucks are now able to get to supermarkets as drivers are forced to self-isolate thanks to the app and supplies of petrol are diminishing for the same reason.

Meanwhile, the British government in its perennial state of indecision and mayhem, has made yet another U-turn and is demanding that the country’s youth get vaccinated or face exclusion from night clubs and large venues. This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg.

In France, despot Emmanuel Macron, has made vaccination mandatory among health workers. At least 30 per cent have refused so far but will see themselves squeezed out of jobs unless they comply. Mass protests are breaking out across France at the president’s duplicity and in territories such as Martinique, there is wholesale unrest.

The French have always believed in democracy, liberty and the rights of the individual but their president has now, like Bojo, decided to renege on his promise.

Although much of the French populace is rebelling against the new coercive vaccination initiative, soon it will have no choice but to comply as travel, dining, food buying, shopping and entertainment venues will all require vaccine passports or negative PCR tests for entry. Until now, PCR tests have been free in France but sneakily the president has reneged in order to put further pressure on the public to come to heel.

As many immigrant communities oppose the vaccine, a new kind of apartheid is being created.

Meanwhile, Bojo is is following suit in the UK although he might find members of his own party and opposition parties not as compliant as those quivering wrecks in the French parliament. Labour, Lib Dem and the Scot Nats all oppose enforced vaccination and so his Napoleonic attempts to emulate Macron are likely to fail.

There are eminently good reasons why the British hospitality industry and sane politicians oppose BoJo’s despotic directive. Firstly, they think the scheme would prove hugely costly, and secondly that it would be almost impossible to police, let alone be impractical and open to abuse.

Within a short space of time, fake Covid jab passports would be doing the rounds and a new fraudulent and lucrative business would be hatched. Years ago, my son and countless of his teenage friends were able to acquire fake driving licences online in order to buy liqueur.

There were cheap ones that were so obviously fake but the real McCoy would be near impossible to distinguish from legitimate licences. It was a national racket and I can’t think of many teens who weren’t in on the act. The same would inevitably happen with a covid passport.

But it’s not just about policing the scheme. It’s really about liberty and freedom of the individual. The UK is now close to becoming a totalitarian state with no effective opposition and laws are being hastily introduced with hardly a murmur of dissent. Dangerous times indeed and while a Covid-cowed and impotent electorate continues to shake in its boots like a fearful whippet, things can only get a whole lot worse.

As writer, John Steinbeck wrote: ‘Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts. Perhaps the fear of a loss of power.’ Creating fear has been the driving force of the British government and fear will drive its laws.

Mum’s the word

Sweeping reforms to the Official Secrets Act are hastily being planned by the current UK government which will see British journalists imprisoned for up to 14 years should they dare to criticise the state.

Whistle-blowers and those who publish disquieting information about the wrongdoings of the state will be subject to the new law. For example, the culprit who released the video footage of Matt Hancock canoodling with his lover while in public office, would be subject to imprisonment as would the newspaper baron, printing the story. Is that right? Is it not in the public interest to know about such abuses of power?

Censorship and the ending of a free press are the hallmarks of oppressive regimes such as North Korea. We don’t expect to find such authoritarianism in a so-called democratic country. If Boris Johnson has his way, in the near future journalists will be gagged and imprisoned and those who protest – under the newly imposed police crackdown bill – will be incarcerated too.

What next, gulags? Never before has British democracy been so sorely under threat and yet the majority of the public is unaware. The electorate could soon find itself under curfew, constant surveillance, and unable to buy a loaf of bread without clocking onto a spying app. The stuff of fiction? Only time will tell.

Smelling a rat

Members of the Andalusian regional government paused a session recently when faced with a large rat that scurried among them across the chamber floor. Many females jumped on chairs while the brave attempted to track the creature’s movements on foot. Finally sanity was restored but the incident proved how easily the natural world can strike us silly humans off balance. A small creature just has to step into our pathetic little manmade universe to render it impotent proving, thankfully, that nature still holds all the cards.

Anna Nicholas’s seventh Mallorca travel title, Peacocks in Paradise, is now available to buy online at Amazon or in good bookshops in the UK and from August in Spain. Follow her at