Coles introduces new product buying limits amid Omicron disruptions

Coles has imposed product limits on more items as the supermarket chain tried to keep up with high demand and major disruptions to supply chains.

The temporary limit on select medicinal items and toilet paper applies to stores across the country as well as online orders.

Shoppers will now only be able to purchase two packs of paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin at a time.

They are also limited to one unit of toilet paper.

Empty shelves of toilet paper products are seen at a supermarket in Sydney on Friday. Source: AAP
The temporary limit on select medicinal items and toilet paper applies to Coles stores across the country and online orders. Source: AAP

The move comes after it was revealed earlier this week that Australians are struggling to get their hands on paracetamol, following advice from the nation's deputy chief medical officer, Michael Kidd, to stock up in order to manage Covid symptoms at home.

The advice sparked an increased demand for the pain relief medicines, leaving shelves barren and people scrambling to find supplies as the virus continues to surge nationwide.

Professor Kidd said it was likely many Aussies would test positive in the near future and encouraged people to be prepared to treat Covid symptoms — such as fevers and mild aches or pains — at home.

Last week, Coles placed a temporary limit on rapid antigen tests and meat, citing a number of supply chain challenges such as a shortage of pallets and truck drivers who had been forced into Covid isolation.

Coles product limits per customer:

  • Select medicinal items (paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin) — two packs

  • Toilet paper — one pack

  • Hough Covid-19 Home Test Kit — one pack (excluding WA)

  • Chicken breasts — two packs

  • Chicken thighs— two packs

  • Mince — two packs

  • Sausages — two packs

While Woolworths has declined to reimpose purchase limits, the grocery giant has implemented a new initiative in response to the Omicron variant.

“If you’re shopping online, as a temporary measure we are automatically activating substitutions on all orders,” Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said.

“We know this isn’t ideal, but it does mean there’s less chance of missing out on something you really need. We’ll revert to your preference as soon as possible.”

A store in Mortdale, NSW with bare shelves due to staff members in isolation due to Covid. Source: Facebook
Supermarket shelves are bare due to staff members in isolation. Source: Facebook

Covid exemption for select workers after supermarkets run low

In response to bare supermarket shelves seen across the country, NSW, Victoria and Queensland announced changes to workplace restrictions and transport services on Sunday in a bid to ease the impact of the virus on critical services.

NSW Health said critical workers in food logistics and manufacturing sectors furloughed as close contacts were allowed to leave self-isolation as long as they didn’t have Covid symptoms, wear a mask and comply with their employers risk management strategies, including daily rapid tests.

This week, the national cabinet — comprising Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders — are discussing which business sectors will have Covid-isolation rules relaxed after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee released preliminary advice on Monday for grocery supply workers.

Guidelines issued by the committee have changed the definition of close contacts for those exposed to Covid-19 working in critical food and grocery production, manufacturing, logistics and distribution facilities, allowing them to come back to work if they test negative after being a close contact.

with AAP

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