Published: 14:37 BST, 19 September 2020 | Updated: 17:11 BST, 19 September 2020

Ocado and Sainsbury’s have warned customers that delivery slots are booking up fast – as fears of a second wave appear to be fuelling the return of panic-buying.

The online supermarkets pasted notices on their ‘pick a slot’ page warning customers the sites were experiencing high demand.

Ocado’s read: ‘Delivery slots are selling out faster than usual. If you can’t find a slot now, please use the “Next 3 days” button to see available slots further in advance.’

It comes as Government scientists spooked Boris Johnson with warnings of hundreds of daily coronavirus deaths ‘within weeks’ as they said: ‘There is no alternative to a second national lockdown’. 

A senior citizen gets the last pack of toilet rolls at a Sainsbury’s Supermarket on March 19, 2020, in Northwich. A spate of panic buying in March saw supermarket shelves stripped bare

A notice on the Sainsbury’s delivery slots page warned ‘slots are still in high demand’ on Friday morning as fears rise over a potential second lockdown

A notice on Sainsbury’s delivery slots page said: ‘Slots are still in high demand. We have been working hard to expand our service.  More slots are now available and we are able to offer some of them to other customers. 

‘Customers who are vulnerable will get priority access and are able to book slots in advance of anyone else. We’re releasing new slots regularly so please check back if you can’t see any available.’

Meanwhile Tesco was fully booked until Wednesday with an available slots all priced at £5.50 – and there were no available spaces until Monday at Asda. 

A notice on Ocado’s website read: ‘Delivery slots are selling out faster than usual. If you can’t find a slot now, please use the “Next 3 days” button to see available slots further in advance’

The Prime Minister is now threatening to ‘intensify’ coronavirus restrictions as he blames the British public for the rise in cases – despite his repeated pleas for people to return to their desks and eat out at pubs and restaurants in a bid to resuscitate Britain’s economy. 

It has led to concerns the nation could return to the days of panic shopping seen at the beginning of the pandemic in March. 

On March 19 shoppers formed queues outside supermarkets up and down the country from 6am and stripped shelves bare by 9am.

And Ocado was forced to shut down its website and app on March 18 after being swamped with orders. 

It comes as the Prime Minister looks to ditch his Rule of Six and introduce fortnight-long ‘circuit breakers’ nationwide for six months, following claims that it was ‘inevitable’ that a second wave would hit the country last night.  

Senior citizens walk past empty shelves as they shop at Sainsbury’s Supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, United Kingdom

Hundreds of customers queued for more than an hour with empty trollys zig-zaging through the car park at Costco wholesale warehouse, Sunbury-on-Thames, on March 19

The new approach to get the UK through winter would see it alternate periods of stricter measures, including bans on all social contact between households and shutting down hospitality and leisure venues like bars and restaurants, with intervals of relaxation. Schools will be shut as a ‘last resort’, a Whitehall source claimed.

It is understood that the new ‘circuit break’ shutdown could be announced via television press conference on Tuesday, in a move reminiscent of the Government’s behaviour during the peak of the pandemic.  

Visiting the Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre construction site near Oxford, Mr Johnson said: ‘What I can certainly say about parents and schools is we want to keep the schools open, that is going to happen.

‘We want to try and keep all parts of the economy open as far as we possibly can – I don’t think anybody wants to go into a second lockdown but clearly when you look at what is happening, you have got to wonder whether we need to go further than the rule of six that we have brought in on Monday, so we will be looking at the local lockdowns we have got in large parts of the country now, looking at what we can do to intensify things that help bring the rate of infection down there, but also looking at other measures as well.’ 

Officials, including England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, are thought to be arguing for tough restrictions as panic within official circles grows. 

Today the Government’s original lockdown architect, Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, recommended ‘rolling back’ freedoms ‘sooner rather than later’ by ‘reducing contact rates between people’.  

The epidemiologist, who was sacked from SAGE for flouting his own lockdown rules, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Right now we’re at about the levels of infections that we were seeing in late February, if we leave it at another two to four weeks we will be back at levels we were seeing more like mid March. 

‘That’s going to clearly cause deaths… I think some additional measures are likely to be needed sooner rather than later, the timing of any more intensive policy, temporary policy, is open to question’. 

But the measures are thought to have been met with protests from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has warned against introducing new blanket restrictions by pointing to huge damage already inflicted to the economy.

Government sources claim that Mr Sunak gave ‘sombre warnings’ to the Prime Minister as he highlighted the severity of the damage caused to the UK economy as a result of the March lockdown – while Mr Johnson shrugged off the ‘grim’ economic forecasts, claiming that ‘he was confident it will all be OK in the end’.  

Business leaders echoed the Chancellor’s concerns and warned that a second lockdown would tank the economy, with the British Chambers of Commerce saying: ‘Uncertainty and speculation around future national restrictions will sap business and consumer confidence at a delicate moment for the economy’.   

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News – Ocado running out of delivery slots as second lockdown looms