Coronavirus: Everything you need to know about new supermarket limits

·Contributor
·6-min read

As supermarket shelves across the country have started to be emptied of toilet paper once again, Coles and Woolworths have re-introduced buying restrictions.

After initially imposing limits in Victorian stores after increasing numbers of active coronavirus cases in the state, the two main supermarkets have since rolled out more restrictions across the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged shoppers to resist panic buying. “Stop it, it’s ridiculous,” he said in response to supermarkets being forced to implement new measures.

Here’s everything you need to know about what you can and can’t buy in which supermarkets.

Empty shelves at Coles in Mildura amid coronavirus panic-buying.
Empty shelves at Coles captured by a customer on Thursday in Mildura, Victoria. Source: Twitter

Coles: The restrictions

Coles re-introduced purchase limits as of June 26. Nationwide, all customers will be limited to one pack of toilet paper and one pack of paper towel. This also applies to Coles Express stores and online shopping.

For stores in Victoria and on the NSW/Victoria border there is also a limit of two packs per customer on the following:

  • Hand sanitiser

  • Flour

  • Eggs

  • Sugar

  • Mince

  • UHT milk

  • Rice

  • Pasta

Shopping hours

There is no change to normal shopping hours, with stores open at usual times. The ‘community hour’, where vulnerable people were allowed to enter the store early, has not been reinstated.

Online delivery

It’s still possible to get orders delivered, or to order them via the click and collect service. The Coles Online Priority Service, which gives vulnerable customers priority access to online delivery, is still running too.

Coles has re-introduced purchase limits as of June 26. A shopper carries a basket inside one of the stores.
Coles has re-introduced purchase limits as of June 26. All customers will be limited to one pack of toilet paper and one pack of paper towel. Source: Getty

Coles also offer a Coles Community Box, which is available for all customers to order, and designed to be delivered to friends, neighbours or vulnerable people who need access to groceries.

Each box is $80 and delivered in two packages by Australia Post. It contains grocery items to make healthy meals – such as pasta, rice, soup, fruit juice, tea and coffee, plus everyday essentials including soap, cleaning spray and a four-pack of toilet paper.

Other measures

Coles are continuing to conduct additional cleaning in their stores – particularly on trolleys, baskets, checkout and self-service areas, and pin pads.

There is hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes at the front of each store, which customers are asked to use before entering the shop.

They have Perspex screens at checkouts as well as between each self-service checkout.

“We ask that customers continue to shop normally so that everyone can have access to the food and groceries they need,” Coles says.

A Coles worker cleaning the checkout with sanitiser.
Coles are continuing to conduct additional cleaning in their stores – particularly on trolleys, baskets, checkout and self-service areas, and pin pads. Source: Getty

Woolworths: The restrictions

On June 26, Woolworths put a two-pack limit on toilet paper and toilet roll in all stores across the country.

“We’ve regrettably started to see elevated demand for toilet roll move outside Victoria in the past 24 hours,” Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said.

“We’re taking preventative action now to get ahead of any excessive buying this weekend and help maintain social distancing in our stores.”

Woolworths has ordered an extra 650,000 packs of toilet roll across the country, which is 30 per cent higher than their usual supplies.

In Victorian stores, there also is a two-packet limit on:

  • Pasta

  • Flour

  • Sugar

  • Mince

  • Long-life milk

  • Eggs

  • Rice

The shopping hours

Store opening hours remain the same as usual. There are currently no plans to reinstate the ‘community hour’, which allows vulnerable people to shop at a quieter time.

Most Woolworths stores in Victoria have Community Pick Up still available. Pictured are shoppers outside one of the stores.
Community Pick Up is also available in most Victorian Woolworths stores, allowing other people to collect your groceries on your behalf. Source: Getty Images

Online delivery

It’s still possible to have your grocery shop delivered, or to get it via click and collect.

In April, Woolworths opened tens of thousands of extra home delivery slots in order to keep people out of stores.

In the past week there’s been a 40 per cent lift in online shopping demand across Melbourne.

Woolworths have responded by opening up thousands more online delivery slots and putting more delivery trucks on the road in Victoria to add to the 200 extra vehicles they had previously employed.

Community Pick Up is also available in most Victorian stores, allowing other people to collect your groceries on your behalf. Priority Assistance deliveries – which give the elderly, people with disabilities and those in isolation priority on delivery slots – are also still available.

Other measures

Staff in-store are regularly wiping down baskets and trolleys, as well as monitoring social distancing around the checkouts.

There are hand-sanitising stations at the front of every store which customers are asked to use before entering the store. All deliveries are contactless with groceries delivered in reusable bags.

“We’ve taken precautionary steps by applying some product limits. Rest assured we have healthy stock levels, please only buy what you need,” Woolworths says.

ALDI

Aldi has not yet re-introduced any buying restrictions. At the height of COVID-19 in March and April, they imposed the same limits on toilet paper and other items as Coles and Woolworths.

Their opening hours remain normal and they don’t do online delivery. They are installing clear screens in most stores and there are social distancing markers in-store.

A woman wearing a mask carrying toilet paper during the coronavirus pandemic.
ALDI, IGA and Harris Farm are yet to reintroduce any new product restrictions, but all stores are following social-distancing rules. Source: Getty

IGA

In March and April, IGA had different buying restrictions in different stores, depending on the size and location of the shop. They haven’t reinstated restrictions yet.

As they are franchise-owned stores, check your local store for details.

They are still enforcing social distancing in their stores and asking customers to pack their own bags.

IGA are still running their priority shop scheme where vulnerable customers can get essential grocery packs delivered to their door.

Harris Farm

Harris Farm currently has no new restrictions on buying.

The supermarket continue to encourage social distancing in-store and ask customers to use the hand sanitiser at the front of the store before entering.

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