Canberrans have been urged not to panic buy in response to the seven-day lockdown which commenced at 5:00 pm this afternoon (12 August).
Despite this, images from various locations around Canberra have shown scenes of illegal parking as consumers rushed to their local shops, extensive queues inside and outside supermarkets, and supermarket shelves being stripped bare of bread, toilet paper and milk.
At Westfield Woden, a security and police presence was visible by mid-afternoon.
In both Woolworths and Coles supermarkets, the queues of shoppers snaked down and around almost every single aisle.
Those at the front of the line told Region Media they had already been waiting for upwards of half an hour.
Upon being questioned, shoppers reported only being in the supermarkets to purchase what they needed for the evening or their “normal groceries”. However, almost every second trolley or basket contained a packet of toilet paper and the toilet paper shelves in Coles at Woden were almost bare within hours of the lockdown announcement.
All shoppers seemed calm and only wanted to get to the front of the queue in a reasonable time.
One woman said she needed to stock up as she was preparing to have her grandchildren at home and had originally gone in to purchase dinner supplies.
“I’m not overdoing it as I don’t want to make things worse, but the way everybody has come out like this is extremely concerning. This isn’t much fun for anybody,” she said.
She also reported being unsure about arrangements for children over the next week, but hoped the lockdown would not last any longer than that.
Upon being asked, most shoppers said they weren’t overly concerned about not being able to purchase food tomorrow.
Many shoppers were already wearing masks; however, many were not and social distancing was virtually impossible in the busy supermarkets.
Similar scenes have been reported on social media at supermarkets at Dickson, Erindale and Wanniassa, Curtin and the Canberra Centre, and Costco at Majura Park.
Farrah’s Liquor Collective owner Matt Farrah said things had gone absolutely crazy ever since the news came out this morning.
“As soon as people knew, things have been out of control with both online and in-store orders,” he said.
At this point, Matt said customers were calm, and everybody had smiles on their faces despite knowing they were about to go into lockdown.
Liquor stores are remaining open throughout the lockdown, including Farrah’s, and deliveries would continue.
In response to the panic, Woolworths Australia has introduced limits on toilet paper in the ACT.
Individual customers can now purchase a maximum of two packs per customer, per shop, in line with current interstate restrictions.
The company issued a statement in which they pleaded with customers only to buy what they needed.
Coles has not yet updated their advice on product restrictions.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has urged Canberrans to remember that supermarkets and other essential services will remain open during the lockdown.
“Like every other jurisdiction has had to do, we need to remind you that supermarkets will remain open. Grocery shopping will continue to be allowed during the lockdown. There is no need for panic buying, and our key message to people is to please be patient, be kind with one another, and be thoughtful.”
Keep up to date with the latest health advice from the ACT Government at covid19.act.gov.au.