Australia’s largest supermarket chains are reintroducing national limits on the amount of toilet paper customers can buy, amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria.
Woolworths shoppers will be allowed to buy two packs of toilet paper, while Coles is bringing in a one-pack limit.
Similar nationwide restrictions were first introduced in March, when panic buying set in following the first wave of COVID-19 cases, but were lifted in April.
Both companies reintroduced restrictions in their Victorian stores on Wednesday.
“While the [national] demand is not at the same level as Victoria, we’re taking preventative action now to get ahead of any excessive buying this weekend and help maintain social distancing in our stores,” Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said.
“We have plenty of stock for all of us, so we encourage our customers to buy only what they need and think of others in the community as they shop this weekend.
“If customers already have enough toilet roll at home, there is no need to buy more.
“The sooner we see buying patterns return to normal levels, as was the case throughout May and most of June, the quicker we’ll be able to wind back limits.”
Woolworths also has limits on other items, including rice, pasta and long-life milk, in its Victorian stores.
However, Coles has extended limits on the buying of these items, and others, right across Australia.
“Coles is implementing purchase limits to ensure more customers have access to staple items,” a Coles spokesperson said.
“We ask that customers continue to shop normally so that everyone can have access to the food and groceries they need.”
Items subject to limits at Coles include flour, sugar, paper towels and mince.
Seriously WTF Australia? Panic buying of toilet paper at Woolies pic.twitter.com/VyYnct4rAV
— Andrew Backhouse (@Andytwit123) March 4, 2020
Panic buying became a major headache for supermarket chains earlier this year, with videos emerging of some customers getting into fights in the aisles.
Today Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged shoppers not to return to that frantic state of buying.
“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,” he said.
“The response to that outbreak is strong, which means that Australians can have confidence.”