Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken to Australia’s major supermarkets about their plans after shoppers worried about coronavirus buy up big.
As the government ramps up its response to the deadly outbreak that has so far infected 34 people in Australia, some consumers have begun preparing for the worst and stocked up on basics including tinned food and toilet paper.
The prime minister consulted with supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, with the fallout affecting global supply chains and consumer behaviour.
“I am not concerned but I thought it was important to have an understanding from those major companies about the processes they are putting in place about how they will continue delivering services to the Australian community,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Images of empty supermarket shelves at some stores have been circulating since the weekend.
I have been to Coles, Woolworths and Aldi in multiple suburbs, the toilet paper shortage is real.
One Aldi I went to had no rice or pasta left at all.
While some say this is panic buying, the fact the shelves are still mostly full suggests it’s in the very early stages. pic.twitter.com/UHPSB4WMsx
— Avid Commentator 🇦🇺 (@AvidCommentator) March 3, 2020
Mr Morrison said he was satisfied with their plans and said the problem was not as widespread as the photos suggested.
“There’s obviously some lines which will be more tested in short term, but they are working on those.”
A Coles spokesperson said they had increased the number of deliveries to stores this week to meet the increased demand for products such as long-life pantry staples and healthcare items.
“Like many retailers, we currently have a shortage of some antibacterial handwashes and hand sanitiser products due to high customer demand,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
While the government is considering using biosecurity control orders to direct Australians suspected of carrying the coronavirus to remain in lockdown or ban mass gatherings, Mr Morrison said people should continue going about their business as usual.