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UK govt to shift on trucker visas amid shortage

Britain is expected to announce plans to issue temporary visas to foreign truck drivers

to resolve an acute shortage that has led to fuel rationing at gas stations and retailers warning of shortages over Christmas.

Ministers are urging against panic buying, and oil companies say there's no shortage, just delivery problems.

But long lines have formed at gas stations and some outlets have closed.

Though temporary, issuing the foreign visas was a shift for a government that brought in a strict new immigration regime after leaving the European Union.

Which is why Boris Johnson's Downing Street office emphasized on Saturday (September 25) that the step was strictly time-limited.

Behind the shortfall are Brexit's restrictions on foreign workers and the health crisis, which halted driver training and testing.

Newspapers reported the scheme would let in up to 5,000 drivers, far short of the 100,000 the UK's Road Haulage Association says are needed to meet demand.

The fuel issue comes as Britain, the world's fifth-largest economy, also grapples with a spike in European natural gas prices causing soaring energy prices and a potential food supply crunch.

Britain says the long-term solution is for more British drivers to be hired, with the haulage association saying better pay and conditions are needed to attract recruits.

But the retail industry has warned that unless the government acts to address the shortage in the next 10 days, then significant disruption is inevitable in the run-up to Christmas.

Other countries such as the United States and Germany are also dealing with truck driver shortages.