Shoppers at a Melbourne Aldi store have been pictured huddled around the Special Buys section despite social distancing restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
A photo shared to Reddit over the weekend shows dozens of shoppers reportedly in pursuit of a dutch oven at the supermarket.
While it is unclear if the store’s capacity had been breached, many of the shoppers appear to have abandoned social distancing of 1.5 metres from others – a condition regularly reiterated by state and federal governments and one that must be adhered to as restriction are rolled back.
The Reddit user captioned the image: “Three months of [isolation] undone by cheap dutch ovens in Aldi.”
And other users were quick to lambast the store and the shoppers pictured.
“Doesn't the supermarket have a responsibility to ensure this kind of s*** doesn't happen?” one person asked.
A user responded, saying occupancy limits were redundant if customers congregated in one aisle.
“This is just people being dumb,” they added.
“Shame on Aldi for running a promo they know will bring crowds during a pandemic. I think the big sales need to be banned until idiots prove they can social distance consistently,” one person said.
“They should start policing stores and fining them for allowing this to happen. It's clear people don't care anymore,” another use wrote.
In recent weeks Victoria has contributed the majority of Australia’s new coronavirus cases, with several outbreaks largely responsible for nearly 300 cases in the month of May.
More than 90 cases in Victoria are active, with the Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reminding residents community transmission is still occurring in the state.
Aldi cuts back on Special Buys
Aldi Australia’s customer experience director Adrian Christie told Yahoo News Australia last month the supermarket had significantly cut back on its Special Buys in order to guarantee customers’ safety.
“One thing we set out very early [in the pandemic] is that we can’t have lines outside our stores that are created by high-demand Special Buys,” Mr Christie said.
“I just don’t think that would have been appropriate. It would’ve been a safety issue.”
When contacted by Yahoo News Australia over the image and its current store policy amid the pandemic, an Aldi Australia spokesperson said “a series of social distancing measures” had been implemented across stores.
“Occasionally, heightened anticipation for a particular product has attracted more customers at once than usual, resulting in large lines. We need our customers to respect social distancing measures at all times, even when they are standing outside our stores.
“While the majority do follow the correct process, it was disappointing to see what unfolded in some stores on the weekend where social distancing measures were not adhered to.”
The spokesperson reminded shoppers to keep at least 1.5 metres from other customers.
Supermarkets in Australia have been at the forefront of the coronavirus narrative since the outbreak began, with tensions in-store regularly boiling over as stock levels were severely depleted due to panic-buying.
Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have all reassured customers they are continuously reducing the risk posed to shoppers and staff, with several features introduced in-store such as protective checkout screens and ramped-up cleaning.
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