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ParcelHero said the country’s courier firms were ready to resume their role in keeping the nation fed and provisioned should stricter lockdown rules be introduced next week.

As the government tussles over the details on when and how to tighten up current Covid restrictions, ParcelHero said it was bracing for the front door to become the front line again, as it did in March.

A three-tier system is under consideration, with different parts of the country in separate categories depending on the number of reported coronavirus cases.

David Jinks, ParcelHero head of consumer research, said: “There are reports of a Cabinet split over these plans.

“If the scheme is launched unchanged, however, it will mean significantly tougher lockdown measures are likely.

“Under the new system, a Level Three alert would mean some types of non-essential stores will close once again and all social contact outside of people’s households forbidden.”

But he added: “If this ‘red alert’ is declared, delivery companies and retailers are ready to resume their key role in keeping the nation fed and provisioned.

“Shoppers can rest assured that, even under a Level Three alert, the nation’s couriers will continue to drop off everything, from food and medicines to board games and garden tools, to keep households fed and entertained.

“Following well-established distancing protocols, they will also, of course, pick up parcels to send to loved ones stuck in isolation.”