Woolworths panic-buying chaos in NSW city before Covid lockdown


Woolworths Armidale has introduced a purchase limit of two toilet paper packs per customer in Armidale both in-store and online, a supermarket spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia.

The store is conducting additional monitoring of social distancing and has also deployed health ambassadors as part of its Covid safe plans, the spokesperson said.

In line with NSW Government directives, all customers and team members are expected to wear face masks inside the supermarket.


Residents in a regional NSW city reported chaotic scenes of panic-buying at supermarkets just hours before it went into lockdown after Sydney's Covid outbreak spread to the region.

The Armidale local government area was subject to lockdown restrictions on Saturday from 5pm. It's slated to end at 12.01am on Sunday, August 15.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announced the development after two new cases were recorded in the region overnight.

The state recorded 319 Covid cases and five deaths in the past 24 hours to midnight on Saturday.

Crowds inside Woolworths Armidale on the left and the long queue outside the supermarket on the right.
Panic-buying scenes from Woolworths in Armidale, NSW, before the city went into lockdown. Source: Twitter/Facebook

As residents prepared to stay at home, packed supermarket scenes emerged from Armidale.

Local Alex Hunter posted videos on Twitter of the "panic buying frenzy".

"Feeling very sorry for the Armidale Woolworths team. Hang in there guys," she wrote with a video showing the crowded store.

In a later video, she captured the metres-long queue to get into the supermarket.

More residents reported similar scenes in a Facebook community group.

"Armidale Central queue is from the front entrance door to Woolworths. Coles complex also has the same issue. The aisles are apparently also packed," one woman wrote.

"My fiance went into Woolies earlier to get a loaf of bread, a carton of milk and 1kg of mince and he said the whole store was completely packed," another person added in the comments.

Woolworths Armidale store manager Jeffrey Carson said the supermarket would remain open throughout the lockdown and asked shoppers to be mindful of others when purchasing their groceries.

“We understand this is an uncertain time in Armidale, but we want to reassure customers our store will remain open throughout the lockdown," Mr Carson said in a statement on Sunday.

“We have plenty of stock in our supply chain, and our team members will be hard at work making sure it flows into our store in large volumes for our customers.

“As always, we encourage our customers to be mindful of others in the community and buy only what they need.

“We also ask customers to follow all social distancing and Covid safe measures in our store.

“Please treat our team members and each other with respect as we work through this unsettling time together.”

But it appears the panic-buying was not just limited to Woolworths and Coles.

"Aldi's was crazy at about 1pm, dropped in for milk and tea and thought I was in a war zone, no veg, no meat, no milk , no toilet paper, just as I got to the teller with my tea, the attendant came out pushing 8 crates of milk, I asked him if I could have 2 cartons and by the time he handed it to me, the vultures swooped and it was all gone, bloody crazy people, pity the old and disadvantaged," the local wrote.

Under the woman's post, some people were quick to point out that essential businesses – like Woolworths, Coles and Aldi – would be open.

"I just don't get it! The grocery stores will still be open! Or we can order online groceries these days?" a Facebook user said.

"Think of others before you buy too much and leave others to go without who might actually need it," another wrote.

Armidale lockdown restrictions

The new rules apply to the Armidale Local Government Area, including Armidale and Guyra.

These new restrictions are the same as those already in place across Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens, Singleton, Dungog, Muswellbrook and Cessnock.

"Everyone in these areas must stay at home unless they have a reasonable excuse to leave," NSW Health said.

"They also cannot have social visitors in their home from outside their household, including family and friends."

A reasonable excuse is if you need to:

  • obtain food or other goods and services

- in your local government area, within 10km of your home, if reasonably practicable;

- for the personal needs of the household or for other household purposes (including pets);

- for vulnerable people; and

- only one person per household may leave the home to obtain food or other goods and services each day (you may take a dependent person with you if that person cannot be left at home on their own).

  • leave home to go to work if

- you cannot reasonably work from home;

- the business is allowed to be open; and

- you comply with relevant rules for Covid-19 tests for Sydney workers.

  • leave home for education if it is not possible to do it at home

  • exercise and take outdoor recreation within your local government area or up to 10km from your home

  • go out for medical or caring reasons, including obtaining a Covid-19 vaccination

People who live on their own can form a 'singles bubble' with another adult who lives in the same LGA.

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