‘It’s like the Christmas rush’: Panic buying reaches frenzied levels across Melbourne as residents stock up on food and alcohol ahead of lockdown
- Panic buying hits Melbourne ahead of expected stage-four lockdown in city
- Premier Daniel Andrews announced radical new lockdown on Sunday
- Shoppers have been filmed queuing outside of South Melbourne Market
- Supermarket shelves have been stripped bare and other locals left outraged
Panic buyers desperate to stock up on essential groceries ahead of a stage four lockdown have flooded supermarkets across Melbourne.
Shoppers in face masks were waiting outside the doors of some stores as early as 7am on Sunday in a bid to snap up dwindling meat supplies before the morning rush.
Thousands of people were seen waiting patiently at South Melbourne Market, despite massive lines for fresh and local produce.
Butchers and bottle shops were also flooded with customers desperate to stockpile meat and booze.
The panic buying has already left fresh meat shelves bare in some Woolworths stores in central Melbourne, angering other locals who have called for calm.
It comes as Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster in Victoria – announcing an 8pm-5am curfew across all of Melbourne as part of radical new lockdown measures.
The shutdown comes into place at 6pm on Sunday and will last until at least September 13.
Panic buyers have crammed into Melbourne supermarkets to stock up on essential groceries ahead of an expected stage four lockdown (pictured, shoppers at the South Melbourne Market on Sunday)
Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 650 new positive tests as the state’s worsening crisis shows no signs ending (pictured, shoppers wearing face masks visit the South Melbourne Market on Sunday)
Racing.com editor in chief Paul Tatnell said one store had likened the Sunday morning rush to holiday shopping.
‘Lockdown panic is well and truly alive,’ he said. ‘Shortage of meat and staples already. One shop likened it to the Christmas rush.’
The move to harsher restrictions comes as coronavirus cases continue to yo-yo, more than halfway through the state’s initial six-week lockdown.
‘If we don’t make these changes, we’re not going to get through this,’ Mr Andrews told reporters.
‘We need to do more. That is what these decisions are about.’
Under the ‘stage four’ restrictions, Melbourne residents will only be allowed to exercise for an hour a day and can’t travel more than 5km from home for the purpose of shopping.
Only one person from each household will be able to go to the shops each day.
Near empty shelves are seen at the vegetable section of a supermarket in Melbourne on Sunday
Supermarkets were flooded with customers on Sunday as a Stage Four lockdown is expected to be announced
Metropolitan Melbourne will be under a nightly curfew, between the hours of 8pm to 5am, from Sunday night with some exemptions for those providing care and travelling to and from work.
Regional Victoria will move to ‘stage three’ restrictions, with restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms and other businesses to shut from midnight on Wednesday.
The premier flagged further announcements would be made about workplaces on Monday, including the closure of certain industries.
‘I want to ensure all Victorians supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, food, beverage, groceries, those types of settings, there will be no impact there,’ he said.
Victoria recorded seven new deaths from coronavirus on Sunday, taking the national toll to 208, along with 671 new cases.
Six of the deaths were connected to the age care sector.
Seventy-three of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks while 598 remain under investigation.
Although supermarkets are still allowed to operate under the new restrictions, some residents have rushed to the shelves and angered fellow locals who call the panic buying unnecessary.
Shoppers have rushed to South Melbourne Market as Victoria premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce stage four lockdown will begin on Wednesday
A long queue is seen lining up outside of the South Melbourne Market on Sunday
Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat shelf at her local supermarket
‘What’s up with the panic buying guys seriously,’ one person tweeted.
‘Who here thinks the announcement is gonna be ‘Food is hereby banned, no supermarkets open for the next six weeks, those who can go that long without food will make up the new Melbourne’.’
Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat shelf at her local supermarket.
‘Panic buying in full swing at my local Aldi in Melbourne,’ she tweeted.
‘Virtually no meat on the shelves.’
Others have stepped in to defend the sudden surge of shoppers.
‘People are talking about panic buying in Melbourne ahead of tighter lockdowns. Is it panic buying or just being prepared?
‘It makes sense to stock up…the less visits to the supermarkets, the better. (I know there will always be a few greedy people).’
The panic buying comes as Australians face a possible meat shortage with abattoirs and meat factories confirming a number of positive COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, the coronavirus-stricken abattoir Cedar Meats confirmed that another employee had tested positive for COVID-19 after working on July 22.
The vegetable section of a Woolworths store in Melbourne is almost empty as people panic buy on Sunday
Shoppers have been filmed waiting patiently in queue with shopping bags outside of the South Melbourne Market on Sunday
A Woolworths in Melbourne has shoppers queuing outside its supermarket as panic buying hits the city
It comes after 111 workers and close contacts of the Melbourne abattoir were forced to self-isolate in April after being diagnosed with the virus.
Three Australian Meat Group abattoir workers in Dandenong South have also tested positive to COVID-19.
Patrick Hutchinson, the chief executive of the Australian Meat Industry Council, warned that closures could have a knock-on effect across the industry.
‘The impacts of any potential closures of processing plants has a flow through effect to our wholesalers and retail network chains, which ultimately affects our farmers and producers,’ Mr Hutchinson said, the Herald Sun reported.