Cancelling Christmas is “very much not the plan”, Boris Johnson has said, in the face of prospects of a turkey shortage and a spike in coronavirus cases during the festive season.
The Prime Minister said the Government does not “expect to have to do anything like last Christmas” when spiralling infection rates forced him to tell millions not to mix.
He acknowledged there are “all sorts of problems” with supply chains threatening to cause shortages to some food and drinks products, but pinned his hopes on the economy righting itself.
Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, has warned a shortage of both carbon dioxide and workers could mean Christmas dinners will be “cancelled”.
But Mr Johnson blamed supply-chain problems on the world economy emerging from the coronavirus pandemic as he flew to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
Asked by reporters on RAF Voyager if supply issues could last months, he said: “It could be faster than that, it could be much faster than that. But there are problems as you know with shipping, with containers, with staffing – there are all sorts of problems.
“But I think market forces will be very, very swift in sorting it out, and we’re going to do whatever we can to help.”
Christmas, however, could also be under threat from a worsening pandemic in the tough winter months when the NHS already comes under strain.
Mr Johnson pointed towards the booster programme designed to keep the situation under control this autumn, and the Plan B of measures such as reintroducing masks if the NHS faces unsustainable pressure.
“It’s a graduated series of steps and we certainly don’t want or expect to have to do anything like last Christmas,” he said.
Asked if he was going to cancel Christmas again, Mr Johnson replied: “That is very much not the plan.”