Supermarkets Warn Of Restrictions If People Keep Panic Buying Over Coronavirus Fears
Supermarket aisles in parts of Australia have been cleared as people fear they won't have access to essentials if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse.
Photos uploaded to social media show some stores have had all their stock of toilet paper, pasta, rice, hand sanitiser and bottled water all snapped up.
Authorities are warning against this type of panic buying, however supermarkets might intervene if this behaviour continues.
Ritchies Supa IGA, the largest independent supermarket chain in Australia, chief Fred Harrison said people need to get only the things they need in the short-term, otherwise supplies will run low for everyone.
"We started to see an increase last Thursday and it escalated quickly over the weekend and into this week," he told 2GB.
"The panic really isn't needed because there is adequate stock supply in Australia but if customers start buying four or five months-worth of supplies then that will put a strain on certain companies."
Mr Harrison added that if things keep going like they're going, he will be forced to introduce restrictions on what people can buy, adding: "If [suppliers] indicated we needed to control stock, something like that would make good sense.
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"We have to talk to suppliers first and be guided by their stock supply. We are starting to have those discussions with suppliers to see what their situation is."
Because so much is shipped from China, including the product and the packaging it comes in, it has been difficult to ensure supplies can be maintained. But Mr Harrison says the Asian country is getting on top of supply shortages to ensure no one else experiences the same.
"China is starting to return to normal, a lot of the major production houses are slowly but surely getting back on track and I think we will start to see an improvement over the next month," he said.
"Without any more severe outbreaks we will see international production return to normal in China and that will help."
One shopper explained to 7News that the whole atmosphere of people panic buying supplies was 'intimidating'.
Coles has released a statement about the low supply and ensured that customers will be able to see the things they want on the shelves soon.
Fifteen of the 38 coronavirus cases detected in Australia have since recovered and the remaining are listed as in stable conditions. One man who was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan, 78-year-old James Kwan, died in a Perth hospital on Sunday.
Featured Image Credit: Chris Ledlin/Twitter