Coronavirus: Panic buying frenzy as New Zealand heads back into lockdown

A frenzy for last-minute grocery items has caused panic in New Zealand supermarkets just hours after it was announced the country would once again be placed under coronavirus restrictions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the nation’s first cases of community transmission in 102 days, with four members of the same family from south Auckland returning positive tests for the deadly virus.

Auckland will be placed under 'level three' restrictions from noon on Wednesday until midnight on Friday.

Hundreds of shoppers line up outside Countdown supermarket in Auckland, New Zealand as Stage Three restrictions loom.
Auckland residents have rushed to their nearest supermarket to stock up on groceries for the three-day lockdown that comes into place on tomorrow. Source: Twitter
Screenshots of the websites of Pak'nSave and Countdown, showing they have crashed as too many people try to log on to order groceries ahead of Auckland's lockdown.
Websites for the country's most popular supermarkets have crashed as thousands try to order groceries online. Source: Twitter

The rest of New Zealand has been placed on 'level two' - mandating social distancing and placing caps on gathering sizes.

Chaotic scenes from Countdown supermarkets across the city show queues of people stretching for hundreds of metres to stock up on groceries for the pending three-day lockdown.

One video shows a security guard desperately trying to stem the flow of arriving customers after people reportedly ripped the doors open at a store in New Lynn, south-west of Auckland.

Vision from inside the stores show shoppers stocking up with piles of toilet paper.

The websites for Countdown and Pak’nSave have also crashed, leaving residents unable to shop online.

PM urges nation to be calm

Ms Ardern appealed to Kiwis - referring once more to the 'team of five million' - to act calmly and respect the restrictions.

"My request is not to be dispirited or disheartened. When we've rolled out our plans before it has worked," she said.

"Please stay home if you are in Auckland. Be vigilant. We will get through this.

"We know what to do because we've successfully done it before."

Around 1.5 million Aucklanders will be asked to stay home within their 'bubbles' except for essential workers, or to go to the supermarket or access health services.

Schools will remain open, but public venues such as gyms, libraries, playgrounds and cinemas will close.

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