Customers' plea to Woolworths and Coles after 'elevated demand' in virus hotspots

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Woolworths and Coles customers are calling for the supermarkets to bring back buying limits to stop a new wave of panic buying as coronavirus cases spike in Victoria.

After panic buying and hoarding took over supermarkets during the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, buying limits on various sought-after items were introduced.

Coles removed buying limits on all items towards the end of May, and Woolworths announced buying limits were to be removed on all items just days ago on June 15.

Now, people are calling for both supermarkets to bring back buying limits as Victoria grapples with multiple outbreaks and confirmed cases linked to community transmission.

Pictures of Woolworths and Coles stores
Customers are calling for Coles and Woolworths to bring back buying limits, with fears of a second wave of panic buying due to the coronavirus outbreaks in Victoria. Source: AAP

“Hello Coles, please consider placing limitations on toilet paper and other essential products in your Victorian stores ASAP before things get out of hand again,” one woman wrote on the Coles Facebook page.

“Our vulnerable citizens deserve the consideration.”

“So why are we seeing reports that there is panic buying on toilet paper again? What happened to continued limits on essentials?” another person questioned.

“How could your stores let this happen AGAIN?”

To which someone responded “How can customers do this again”.

In response to one of the people who expressed their concerns to Coles on Facebook, the supermarket responded by saying the feedback will be “passed on to the relevant teams for consideration and review”, regarding the buying limits.

“We certainly understand the challenges being faced by many members of the community during this time, and we appreciate you taking the time to share this feedback with us,” Coles said in their response to the customer.

“Our team members, suppliers and transport partners have been working hard to deliver more products to stores every day and we are stocking shelves as quickly as possible.”

Picture of empty shelves due to panic buying at Coles
Empty toilet paper shelves at a Coles Supermarket in March amid panic buying which was seen across Australia. Source: AAP

“Come on Woolworths you have a responsibility to stop the panic buying of toilet paper again,” someone posted on Woolworths Facebook page.

“Second wave of stupidity is happening. Limit per person ASAP.”

One person said on the Woolworths Facebook page they witnessed a couple buying 15 packs of toilet paper at a store in Victoria, declaring “bulk buying of toilet paper” had started again.

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a Woolworths spokesperson confirmed there was “elevated” demand for toilet paper at a few stores in Melbourne on Tuesday.

“We saw elevated demand for toilet roll in a small number of Melbourne stores yesterday,” the Woolworths spokesperson said.

“We have plenty of stock to draw on in our distribution centres and will replenish shelves in those stores quickly.

“We'll continue to keep a close eye on stock levels in the coming days, and ask customers to buy only what they need.”

A man looks for toilet paper in an Australian supermarket in March this year, after panic buying due to coronavirus. Source: Getty Images
A man looks for toilet paper in an Australian supermarket in March this year, after panic buying due to coronavirus. Source: Getty Images

Panic buying resulted in empty shelves across Australia, yet shortages weren’t exclusive to Australia – New Zealand, the United States, Mexico, Italy, Ireland, England and Japan all saw shortages too.

Other essential items like disinfectant, hand sanitiser and rice were also subject to buying limits in order to discourage hoarding and allow for supermarkets to restock.

Yahoo News Australia has reached out to Coles for comment.

Testing ramps up in Victoria as cases increase

The surge in Victorians getting tested for coronavirus has prompted authorities to open an additional testing site.

The Melbourne Showgrounds will open at 1pm on Wednesday to Keilor Downs Secondary College students, teachers and parents only.

From Thursday, the showgrounds will be available to the rest of the public, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Twitter on Tuesday night.

coronavirus
coronavirus

Keilor Downs Secondary College was closed on Monday for deep cleaning after a contact linked to a family outbreak in the suburb went to school for two days while infectious.

Premier Daniel Andrews apologised for the delays at drive-through testing sites at shopping centres, where some people have waited up to four hours to be tested while others have been turned away.

Victoria announced 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the state's total to 1864 and marking the seventh consecutive day of double-digit infections.

The new cases have more than doubled the state's active cases in the past week to more than 130.

Testing sites at Chadstone, Highpoint, Northland, Pacific Epping and Pacific Werribee shopping centres have extended operating hours to meet demand.

Meanwhile, the premier said an "army" of officials would begin doorknocking homes in designated hotspots Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Hume and Moreland to ensure residents are understanding and adhering to government guidelines.

A man holding a sign saying ‘testing closed’ directs cars outside a COVID-19 testing site at Craigieburn Health in Melbourne, Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
Coronavirus testing has ramped up in Victoria as the state continues to record double-digit growth in new cases. Source: AAP

Information about the virus will also be provided in languages other than English following concerns COVID-19 messaging hasn't been reaching multicultural communities in those areas.

"There has been very deep engagement with localised communities, multicultural communities, multi-faith communities," Mr Andrews said.

With AAP

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