Chaos has erupted in Queensland shopping centres following the announcement of a three-day lockdown for Greater Brisbane.
The lockdown was declared on Friday to take effect from 6pm until Monday 6pm after a Brisbane hotel cleaner with the mutant UK Covid-19 strain moved through the community for five days.
“We are going to go hard, and we are going to go early to do everything we can to stop the spread of this virus,” premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters on Friday.
A short time later, residents flocked to shopping centres to stock up on supplies for what Ms Palaszczuk said would be like “a long weekend at home”.
Queues stretched down the full length of stores while shelves were quickly wiped of stock across the city.
Woolworths in Redcliffe, in Brisbane’s northeast, was swarmed with unmasked shoppers mingling within close proximity to each other. Footage showed them snapping up what they could.
A video showing a massive line of customers waiting to be served was filmed by an employee and shared to Twitter, where those depicted were widely condemned for “moronic” behaviour.
People were pictured lining up the street for hundreds of metres in Newstead, an inner northern riverside suburb of Brisbane, just to get into the Woolworths inside the Gasworks shopping centre.
The queue for Woolworths at Gasworks, Newstead. (Credit: Helen Walpole) pic.twitter.com/7fLNgt9PGj
— Aaron O'Brien (@Aaron_OBrien9) January 8, 2021
More crowds were shown waiting in large lines that had backed up through the centre of another shopping centre in Brisbane.
“Well, panic buying has engulfed Brisbane. The main Westfield has a line into the car parks to get into Woolworths, Coles and Aldi. The local IGA is also struggling with the number of people. Costco got raided early this morning,” a local reported in a tweet.
Huge queues at QLD Woolworths and Coles
Shoppers were filmed queuing with trolleys stacked high inside Woolworths in Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast, as they were in the Sunnybank Woolworths.
There was a huge line out the door at the Coorparoo Woolworths of people waiting to get in at 11.30am, with just four people wearing a mask.
Madness... Long lines building and panic buying escalating at supermarkets and butchers before #Brisbane enters a 3-day lockdown. Essential shopping is permitted during this period. QLD Premier: “There is no need to panic” #covid19qld #COVID19Aus pic.twitter.com/VTdOFS78xf
— Ciara Jones (@CiaraEJones) January 8, 2021
Woolworths in Karalee, near Ipswich, was also jam packed, leaving a massive line of shoppers out the door towards the centre’s car park.
More of the same scenes were captured on video at Coles in Toombul, with dozens of people queuing to enter the store, much like supermarkets on the Gold Coast.
Queensland Health issued a message following widespread panic buying, reminding residents of Greater Brisbane that supermarkets would remain open throughout the lockdown.
Residents will still be permitted to leave their home for essential reasons including to shop for food and necessary supplies.
“There are no concerns that supermarket supplies are at risk during this three-day period,” a statement from the government department read.
— Jocelyn Garcia (@jocelynggarcia) January 8, 2021
“Those attending supermarkets, particularly during busy periods, are reminded to practice social distancing and hand hygiene, wear a mask and follow all health advice.”
Queensland Police also assured the public there was no reason to be panic buying, and encouraged shoppers to wear face masks when they left home.
“Brisbane, there is no need to panic buy today. Police are responding to traffic congestion and crowd issues around shops across the southeast. Please be considerate of others, social distance and wear a mask in public,” they tweeted.
Of the manic scenes captured in and around supermarkets on Friday, very few people wore face masks and there was a distinct lack of social distancing being practised.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.