Supermarkets are hit by panic buying and could face 'empty shelves and food ...

Supermarkets draw up emergency plans to ‘feed the nation’ if coronavirus causes mass shutdown – amid fears panic-buying could spark food riots and empty shelves Shops have seen a surge in panic buying fuelled by the coronavirus crisis  A major outbreak in Britain would cause 'food riots', former Tesco executive said Supermarkets have now drawn up contingency plans to 'feed the nation'

By Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor For The Daily Mail and Henry Martin For Mailonline

Published: 01:49 GMT, 3 March 2020 | Updated: 03:25 GMT, 3 March 2020

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Shops have seen a surge in panic buying fuelled by the coronavirus crisis - and supermarkets have now drawn up contingency plans to 'feed the nation' in the event of a sudden escalation. 

With two chains already rationing sales, a former Tesco executive said a major outbreak in Britain would 'quickly lead to empty shelves and food riots'.

Ocado has emailed customers to warn it is running out of home delivery slots due to 'exceptionally high demand' and 'particularly large orders'. 

Waitrose reported 'seeing more demand for... cleaning products and hand sanitisers', and Tesco's website has sold out of hand gel.

Lidl said it is 'experiencing a significant increase in demand for durable products and disinfectants'. 

These bare shelves in a Boots pharmacy as panic buying over the UK took hold

These bare shelves in a Boots pharmacy as panic buying over the UK took hold 

With two chains already rationing sales, a former Tesco executive said a major outbreak in Britain would 'quickly lead to empty shelves and food riots' (file image)

With two chains already rationing sales, a former Tesco executive said a major outbreak in Britain would 'quickly lead to empty shelves and food riots' (file image)

Superdrug and Boots has sold out of hand gel and face masks at their stores

Superdrug and Boots has sold out of hand gel and face masks at their stores

Superdrug and Boots has sold out of hand gel and face masks at their stores with emergency orders on their way

It has now limited sales of hand sanitisers to two per customer – as has Boots. 

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Industry experts insist that supermarkets have contingency plans to cope with a worst-case scenario and, despite the pressure, will ensure food remains on shelves.

Under the plans, supermarkets would work

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