The major supermarket chains have hastily renewed purchase restrictions on scores of products in their Victorian outlets, just a day after lifting virtually all limits.
The move came after reports of shelves being emptied at supermarkets across Melbourne as millions of people prepare for a return to stage-three coronavirus restrictions at midnight on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, Woolworths reinstated two-per-customer limits on 27 grocery products – including frozen vegetables, eggs, tissues and mince. Coles has reportedly imposed similar restrictions.
Woolworth said its move would help ensure more customers had fair access to fresh food and essentials.
“All Woolworths supermarkets in Victoria will remain open throughout the next six weeks of stage three restrictions, just as they did earlier this year,” it said.
“We have more than enough stock flowing from our distribution centres into stores to support all our customers’ food and grocery needs. We encourage our customers to continue shopping as they usually would.”
Less than 24 hours earlier, Coles and Woolworths had lifted Australia-wide purchase limits imposed a week ago as Victoria’s rising coronavirus infections sparked a wave of frenzied buying.
Woolworths kept its nationwide limit on toilet paper sales, which also remained on Wednesday.
Both supermarket chains have also been hit by the virus, with workers in major Melbourne distribution centres falling ill and others having to go into isolation.
There are now four confirmed COVID infections linked to Woolworths customer fulfilment centre in West Footscray, from where online orders are managed.
The company will close the centre for cleaning, for the second time in week, while all workers will be tested for the virus.
The company told the Nine newspapers that online orders would not be affected because it would step up deliveries from other sites to make up for the lost capacity.