Just when we thought everything was returning to normal, Woolworths and Coles have reinstated toilet paper limits after another panic-buying frenzy.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the supermarket giants enforced rations on toilet paper after Australians stocked up in huge quantities during their time in isolation.
The restrictions, which later extended to pandemic staples including hand sanitiser and pasta, were lifted in April.
But, a recent outbreak in Victoria has sparked another wave of panic-buying, prompting the supermarkets to crackdown on stockpilers once again.
From today, Coles customers can only buy one pack of toilet paper and one pack of paper towels, while Woolworths has enforced two-pack limits.
Managing director Claire Peters said Woolworths had seen a surge in demand across the country and introduced the limits to prevent crowds swarming on toilet paper aisles.
“We’ve regrettably started to see elevated demand for toilet roll move outside Victoria in the past 24 hours,” she said.
“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 and help maintain social distancing in our stores.
Ms Peters said the supermarket was well-stocked in its warehouses and stores and had ordered extra rolls to cater for the demand.
“We have ordered more than 650,000 additional packs of toilet roll into our network, which is an increase of more than 30 percent on our usual volumes,” she 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.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the resurgence in panic-buying was ridiculous.
“Stop it, it’s ridiculous,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I’m sure it will pass as it did last time. There’s no need for it.”
He said it was important to reassure people the outbreak did not mean there would be a problem with supplies of essential items.
All Australian stores will enforce two-item limits on toilet paper and paper towels.
Victorian shoppers will also see the same restrictions on hand sanitiser, flour, sugar, pasta, mince, long-life milk, eggs and rice.
Ms Peters said the limits will be wound back once buying patterns returned to normal.