(Bloomberg) --

The U.K. government took emergency measures late Sunday to try to ease acute fuel shortages across the country, as gasoline retailers shut pumps after days of panic buying.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had already caved in to industry demands to issue 5,000 short-term visas to truck drivers, while newspapers reported Monday that he may draft in the army to help. The risk is that a prolonged fuel crisis will damage the post-pandemic recovery, putting more strain on already stretched supply lines.

Key Developments:

  • Government suspends competition rules in the sector so that companies can share information
  • Petrol Retailers Association estimates 50% to 85% of independent stations have run dry: FT
  • BP Plc says it has run out of fuel at a third of its stations
  • Industry held talks with ministers over weekend
  • Businesses say move to ease visa rules for truckers won’t be enough

Read: Fuel Shortages Pile Pressure on Johnson as U.K. Crisis Escalates

U.K. May Bring in the Army: Times (6 a.m.)

Soldiers may be deployed to drive tankers of gasoline to service stations in the coming days, the Times reported. That’s because it will take about two weeks for new visas to be issued to foreign drivers under the plan announced over the weekend, the paper said.

Kwarteng Enacts Emergency Protocol (Sunday)

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng triggered the “Downstream Oil Protocol” to exempt the industry from competition rules temporarily.

The move allows companies to share information so they can prioritize deliveries to where they are needed most. And it makes it easier for the government to work with producers, suppliers, hauliers and retailers.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.