Residents of Victoria, Australia have already flocked to supermarkets to panic buy, only an hour after a five-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown was announced.
New rules that come in at midnight (local time) dictate residents across the entire state can only leave home for one of four reasons – one of those being to shop for essential supplies.
But within 60 minutes of Premier Dan Andrews making the announcement, toilet paper shelves were empty, and checkout lines were snaking into the aisles.
Woolworths is expected to implement limits on some of its products as a result.
NCA NewsWire understands toilet paper will be one of the essential items that will have a limit purchase.
Social media users were up in arms over the reaction of their fellow residents, with carparks full and stores crowded.
“[There are] people everywhere panic buying. YOU DO NOT NEED TO PANIC BUY, SUPERMARKETS ARE STILL GOING TO BE OPEN,” one woman wrote.
Another posted a photo of an empty shelf, normally stacked with toilet paper, while a Coles employee said they were called into work just one hour after the lockdown was announced.
“STOP PANIC BUYING THE STORES STAY OPEN FOR GODS SAKEEE,” they said.
Footage emerged online showing long queues of people with piled-up trolleys at their local supermarket.
Premier Andrews announced the “circuit breaker” would run from 11.59pm on Friday until Wednesday, February 17, after cases escaped from the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn quarantine hotel and began to spread through the community.
Under the lockdown rules, Victorians will only be allowed to leave their homes for four reasons: to shop for essentials, to give care, for essential work and education, and for exercise with household members only.
Masks must also be worn everywhere.
“Unless we make these decisions and limit movement in a short, sharp circuit breaker event, then we may be here in a week regretting that we didn’t follow that advice,” Andrews said.
“We have to assume … there’s transmission out there that we don’t know about and that it’s not moving quickly, it’s moving at light speed.
“We have talked about [the UK strain] for a long time, because it is so hyper-infectious, and moves so fast, that it is presenting a very real challenge to our status, our stay-safe, stay-open.”
There are currently 13 cases linked to the Holiday Inn cluster, with all believed to be thehighly infectious UK strain.
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