News Coronavirus Supermarkets cut hours, restrict purchases amid Melbourne’s virus curfew

Supermarkets cut hours, restrict purchases amid Melbourne’s virus curfew

coles 2021 sales
Coles sales have fallen from last year's coronavirus-induced peaks. Photo: AAP
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Supermarkets in Melbourne have cut their opening hours to match the city’s 8pm coronavirus curfew, while purchase limits will remain on staple goods.

Coles said customers will not be allowed to enter its stores after 7.30pm each day, and all stores will close at 7.45pm, unless existing trading hours already specify an earlier closing time.

The restricted hours will apply to all Coles supermarkets, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, First Choice and First Choice Liquor Market stores.

Coles Express will remain open at its usual hours.

Product limits are also in place after panic buying returned during speculation of the tighter lockdown.

Supermarket supply chains have also been thrown into sharper focus with more than 240 staff at a Woolworths warehouse in Victoria walking off the job because of coronavirus concerns.

The United Workers Union said the workers at the Laverton distribution centre took legal cease work action on Monday after a reported positive virus case on Friday night.

It is unclear when the workers will return to work at the centre, which provides alcohol to Dan Murphys and BWS stores.

Meanwhile, Coles has imposed further product limits on meat products – customers can buy only two packets of mince meat, chicken breasts and chicken thighs.

“We ask that you only buy what you need to ensure everyone in our community can purchase the products they need,” Coles Group chief executive Steven Cain wrote in an email to customers.

“Our team members are working as hard as possible to keep shelves stocked and, based on current buying behaviour, we will review these limits daily.”

Woolworths has also imposed purchase limits on a range of pantry staples, including toilet paper, paper towel, bleach, pasta, flour, canned vegetables and eggs.

The purchase restrictions were swiftly reimposed on Sunday as worried Victorians emptied supermarket shelves ahead of an expected announcement of tougher restrictions.

supermarkets hours virus melbourne
Empty shelves at a Melbourne Woolworths on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Supplied

Long queues formed as early as 7am on Sunday at some Melbourne supermarkets.

People also lined up outside butchers amid fears of possible meat shortages due to panic-buying and a string of COVID outbreaks at Victorian abattoirs.

Nervous customers also rushed to bottle shops to stock up on alcohol.

By the end of the day, meat and fresh produce shelves had been emptied at some supermarkets in central Melbourne.

Under the city’s stage four lockdown, people cannot leave their homes between 8pm and 5am unless it is for work, medical care and care-giving.

Shopping is limited to one person per household per day, within a five-kilometre limit, unless the closest store is beyond that distance.

-with AAP