Gas station owners group says "early signs" that fuel crisis is ending

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to reassure the British public Tuesday that a fuel-supply crisis snarling the country was “stabilizing,” though his government said it would be a while before the situation returns to normal, the Associated Press reports.

Johnson’s government has put army troops on standby to help distribute gasoline and help ease a fuel drought, triggered by a shortage of truck drivers, that has drained hundreds of pumps and sent frustrated drivers on long searches for gas.

“We now are starting to see the situation improve,” Johnson said in a televised interview. “On the forecourts, the situation is stabilizing, and people should be confident and just go about their business in the normal way.”

The Petrol Retailers Association also said there are “early signs” the fuel crisis was ending.

Many gas stations around Britain shut down in the past five days after running out of fuel, a situation exacerbated by panic buying among some motorists. Long lines of vehicles have formed at pumps that are open, with tempers fraying amid hours-long waits.

The crisis has brought calls from heath care organizations and teachers’ groups for essential workers to be given priority for fuel supplies.

“We can’t be waiting two or three hours in a queue for fuel when we have patients to see,” David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, told Times Radio.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the crisis was so far causing worry, but not major disruption, for educators who are already grappling with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We very much hope the situation is resolved rapidly before it causes disruption,” he said. “There is the option for remote education, which schools and colleges have shown themselves to be very adept at providing through the pandemic, but this is very much a last resort and they will be hoping it doesn’t come to that.”

The supply problems stem from a shortage of as many as 100,000 truck drivers, due to a perfect storm of factors including pandemic-related disruption to driver training, an aging workforce and an exodus of foreign workers following Britain’s departure from the European Union last year.

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