A business owner in Harrow described how the Covid-19 pandemic meant he was forced to work 16-hour days to keep afloat.

Paolo Arrigo, who runs Seeds of Italy, in Rosslyn Crescent, Harrow, said the outbreak brought increased pressures as industries stalled.

He explained how his sector almost “went into collapse” as everything from growing to logistics was affected.

A period of catch-up meant his staff were working seven days a week, often for 14 hours a day and sometimes up to 16 hours.

He said: “We had to quickly hire more people and train them – it was impossible to keep up, but we did manage to increase capacity a bit.

“I know people in the food industry who haven’t had a day off in ten weeks – food stores and supermarkets need supplies, but also farmers and growers and allotment users do.

“If no one sows, there are fresh food shortages – not tomorrow or next week, but next month and in two- or three-months’ time.”

Mr Arrigo said his business took 21 days’ worth of orders during a 12-hour period online before it had to be taken down for March and April and it moved to phones only.

He said: “We were the only brand to keep our lines open during the seed crisis – and our dispatch times were excellent in comparison to the big seed brands – but it was impossible to cope with.

“Imagine you are a restaurant with 10,000 customers, and they all turn up for lunch, every day. That is what happened with seeds and it was not possible to feed everyone, so to speak.”

Mr Arrigo added the problem was exacerbated by more customers wanting to plant seeds as a hobby during the lockdown period or to grow fresh food and reduce the reliance on shops.

He noted that this was particularly prevalent in Harrow, where lots of people have access to allotments, gardens, and other outdoor areas.

And while more businesses are gradually reopening and measures are being put in place to support the economy, Mr Arrigo expects that things will be hectic for the foreseeable future.