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'Like licking a sick person': Outrage after chaotic scenes at Bunnings stores

Chaotic scenes at Bunnings stores across the country have gained nationwide attention after crowds were captured ignoring coronavirus social distancing rules while queuing outside.

Shoppers have reported a general lack of adherence to the guidelines and accused customers of being in breach of rules that permitted Australians to only leave their homes for “essential” reasons.

There was so much outrage over the volume of people that fronted up to the hardware retailer on Saturday that the store was trending on Twitter.

Many people were captured mingling outside this Bunnings store in Innaloo, Perth. Source: Twitter/_cassthompson
Many people were captured mingling outside this Bunnings store in Innaloo, Perth. Source: Twitter/_cassthompson

It seemed there were similar scenes at the hardware chain’s outlets all over the country, with a majority of complaints directed at people not standing a safe distance while lining up to get inside.

“Huge queue at Bunnings Innaloo people not social distancing despite cordon being up in,” one person wrote about the store in Perth’s north.

Another said they could see a Bunnings store from their balcony and the car park had “been packed their entire opening hours for weeks”.

“I assume people are either planting lovely gardens, doing up all the repairs they have forgotten about, or building walls for the imminent zombie riots,” they wrote.

This was the view from outside a Bunnings store in Sydney. Source: Twitter/Sydney_runner
This was the view from outside a Bunnings store in Sydney. Source: Twitter/Sydney_runner

Someone else said shopping at Bunnings on a Saturday was “about as stupid as licking the sweat off a sick person”.

One lady said she visited the store to get some things for her mum to keep her from going “insane”, and it was “people galore” with many families inside shopping despite the pandemic.

Another person speculated it was unlikely that all the people shopping at Bunnings on Saturday were doing so for essential reasons.

“Nobody, absolutely nobody can tell me that everyone going to Bunnings is doing so for an essential reason. For eg painting your house is not essential. Buying potting mix is not essential. 70 per cent of people there are just taking the piss,” they wrote.

Images from outside some stores showed giant lines of people waiting to get inside, with not everyone showing respect for the 1.5 social distancing rule.

It’s not the first time concern has been raised over people still being allowed to shop at Bunnings while being banned from visiting public parks and beaches.

A photo from inside a busy Bunnings shared earlier this week sparked debate after it was compared to a deserted beach, leaving people wondering why it was acceptable to shop, but not spend time outside.

A man posted a picture of Bunnings alongside a deserted Noosa beach. Source: Facebook
A man posted a picture of Bunnings alongside a deserted Noosa beach. Source: Facebook

Bunnings is one of the few major Australian retailers that has been allowed to continue operating during the pandemic, with hundreds of smaller businesses having been ordered to close.

Among a host of other businesses, hotels, pubs, restaurants (except for takeaway), cafes (except for takeaway), movie theatres and all beauty therapies have been told to shut indefinitely.

Staff ‘doing their best’

Bunnings Managing Director Mike Schneider told Yahoo News Australia the retailer was following government advice in its continuation of trading.

“We’ve made a lot of changes in store as we work to ensure the safety of our team and customers and operate in a responsible way,” Mr Schneider said.

Some of these changes include increased cleaning in-store and for equipment, suspending all of our in-store activities, taping floors in-store to mark 1.5m, posters outside, around the store and PA announcements to remind customers to be mindful of social distancing, limiting customers in busier aisles and limiting customer numbers in store during busy times.

He said queues at the front of stores were due to there being customer limits on the number of people allowed to shop at a time, and staff were “doing their best to ensure that everyone is observing social distancing whilst they wait”.

“Our team are also doing a great job at making sure that everyone gets in and out as safely and as easily as possible.Keeping our customers and team safe whilst providing everyone access to the products that they need during this time remains a priority for us.”

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