Finance Consumer Ditching curfews could curb coronavirus panic-buying, retailers say

Ditching curfews could curb coronavirus panic-buying, retailers say

Two workers at a Coles distribution centre in Melbourne have tested positive to the coronavirus. Photo: Getty
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Panic-buying could be be mitigated by changes to supermarket delivery curfews, the Australian Retailers Association says.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews met stakeholders in Sydney on Wednesday to discuss the effects of COVID-19 on supply chains.

Authorities argue panic-buying is unjustified because Australian stock supplies are strong but Ms Andrews said there was an issue with restocking supermarket shelves.

Retailers association executive director Russell Zimmerman says curfews on delivery trucks mean overnight deliveries are impossible and shelves are being left empty as a result.

Nothing breeds a problem more than what we’re seeing on the shelves at the moment,’’ Mr Zimmerman said.
Panic-buying images are spreading on social media, contributing to the stockpiling cycle. Photo: Twitter/@DavidCaoEV

The ARA has begun calling state governments and the Australian Local Government Association to have curfews lifted as soon as possible.

Curfews are put in place by local councils.

“If there is product on the shelves, the whole issue becomes less concerning to the consumer,” Mr Zimmerman told AAP on Wednesday.

It’s when there is nothing that the consumer sees a problem.’’

Sydney’s City of Ryde announced it would lift its delivery curfew on Monday.

Ms Andrews said the federal government will look into the issue.

“We are going do everything that we possibly can … so when people walk into a supermarket they are actually seeing the shelves stocked,” she said.

The minister said hand sanitiser supplies may be low, but people could use wipes or “good old soap”.

“We are a very innovative nation and people will always look for alternatives, so if you can’t find the hand sanitiser that you’re used to buying … your option is to use good old soap.”

Face mask panic-buying hurts health workers

The bushfires and coronavirus have led to a run on face masks. Photo: Getty/eBay/TND

Medical experts have pleaded with the public to stop panic-buying and hoarding face masks in response to the coronavirus, as shortages will jeopardise the safety of frontline health workers.

Last month, the United States surgeon general begged Americans to stop buying face masks.

“Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” Dr Jerome Adams wrote in a tweet.

“They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

Face masks have not been recommended for the general public as the protection they offer is limited and they are frequently worn incorrectly, virologist Ian Mackay, an associate professor at the University of Queensland’s school of medicine, explained to The New Daily.

There is no scientific evidence that they protect the general public from infection,’’ Dr Mackay said.

Face masks can be effective for “a professional to use in the right context”, but for members of the general public they are “more likely to be used wrongly and increase the risk by giving a false sense of security”, he said.

Instead, people should start implementing more stringent hygiene practices.

COVID-19 is mainly spread person to person via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

It is also spread by people touching contaminated surfaces, where the virus can live for up to 48 hours, and then infecting themselves by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Recommendations include regular hand-washing, using hand sanitiser, coughing or sneezing into the corner of the elbow, not touching the face, mouth, nose or eyes with the hands, avoiding contact with sick people, and staying home if ill or experiencing symptoms.

-with AAP

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