No reasons to panic-buy, Australia’s PM says, but supermarkets reintroduce limits on toilet roll purchasing

Up to 68,000 toilets have been built or refurbished since 2015 in China. Photo: Handout. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

CANBERRA, Jun 27, 2020, BBC. Supermarkets in Australia have reintroduced limits on purchasing toilet roll amid a rise in panic-buying. On Friday, Coles imposed a one-pack limit on toilet roll and paper towels nationwide, while Woolworths has a two-pack limit on toilet roll, BBC News reported.

The rush was triggered by a spike in Covid-19 cases in the state of Victoria.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was no reason to panic-buy.

Limits were previously imposed in March, when Australian shoppers anticipating a lockdown emptied supermarket shelves. Police were called to one store in Sydney after customers fought over toilet roll.

Victoria’s tally of new Covid-19 cases has been in double digits for over a week. On Thursday, 33 new cases were confirmed.

Images and video posted to social media in recent days show people picking up multiple packs of toilet roll, leaving shelves nearly empty.

The latest curbs began in Victoria on Wednesday when supermarkets announced a return to limited toilet roll sales.

Coles has also imposed limits on hand sanitiser and food staples like pasta and eggs in the state.

Woolworths reported a big rise in toilet roll demand in Victoria, but said other states are also panic-buying again. Customers at supermarkets in New South Wales and South Australia have reported empty shelves.

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

“While the demand is not at the same level as Victoria, we’re taking preventative action now to get ahead of any excessive buying this weekend.”

The supermarket chain has ordered an extra 650,000 packs of toilet roll – a third more than normal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday there was no need for customers to start panic-buying again.

“I’m sure [panic-buying] will pass, as it did last time. There’s no need for it, and I think today it’s important to reassure people the outbreak doesn’t mean there’s a problem. The response to that outbreak is strong, which means that Australians can have confidence,” he said.

Mr Morrison and the country’s chief medical officer said the virus remains under control, and plans to reopen Australia’s economy will go ahead.

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