March 25, 2020 / 2:09 PM / 12 days ago

Britain's embattled logistics industry calls for Brexit to be delayed

A general view of vehicles traveling on the M1 motorway, near Hendon, North London as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in London, Britain March 24, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s logistics industry is urging the government to delay its departure from the European Union because it cannot prepare for Brexit while battling to get food and medical supplies into the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

The FTA, which represents members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, said it was petitioning government to urgently seek an extension to the transition period before the planned departure date at the end of the year.

“This is not about the relative merits of Brexit, or any trading arrangements which our industry will need to adopt,” said Elizabeth de Jong, Policy Director at FTA.

“Logistics is facing unprecedented challenges, both in terms of keeping the UK economy supplied with all the goods it needs to function, as well as coping with the increased disruption to staffing levels caused by sickness and self-isolation and concerns about the viability of their businesses.”

British shoppers stripped many supermarket shelves bare in the last week as a lockdown loomed, increasing the pressure on the logistics industry to replenish stock at a time when borders are closing across Europe.

The death toll from coronavirus in the United Kingdom jumped on Tuesday by 87 to a total of 422 - the biggest daily increase since the crisis began.

Reporting by Kate Holton, editing by Estelle Shirbon

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