COVID-19 panic buying hits Melbourne as shoppers strike supermarkets at the head of Stage 4 lockdown

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Panicked shoppers, desperate to stock up on essential groceries ahead of the Stage Four lockdown, have flooded supermarkets in Melbourne.

Shoppers wearing face masks were waiting outside the doors of some stores as early as 7 a.m. Sunday in an attempt to stock up on declining meat before the morning rush hour.

Thousands of people have been seen waiting patiently at the South Melbourne Market, despite massive queues of fresh, local produce.

Butchers and bottle shops have also been inundated with customers desperate to stock up on meat and alcohol.

The panic-buying has already left the shelves of fresh meat bare in some Woolworths stores in central Melbourne, angering other residents who have called for calm.

It comes as Daniel Andrews declared a state of disaster in Victoria – announcing an 8pm to 5am curfew across Melbourne as part of sweeping new lockdowns.

The shutdown comes at 6 p.m. on Sunday and will last until at least September 13.

Panicked shoppers crowded supermarkets in Melbourne to stock up on essential groceries ahead of the planned Fourth Stop lockdown (pictured, shoppers at South Melbourne Market on Sunday)

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 650 new positive tests as the worsening crisis in the state shows no signs of ending (pictured, shoppers wearing face masks visit the South Melbourne market on Sunday)

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 650 new positive tests as the worsening crisis in the state shows no signs of ending (pictured, shoppers wearing face masks visit the South Melbourne market on Sunday)

Racing.com editor-in-chief Paul Tatnell said one store compared the Sunday morning rush to holiday shopping.

“The lockdown panic is alive and well,” he said. “Shortage of meat and basic products already. One store compared it to the Christmas rush.

The move to tougher restrictions comes as coronavirus cases continue to yo-yo, more than half of the state’s initial six-week lockdown.

“If we don’t make these changes, we’re not going to get away with it,” Andrews told reporters.

“We need to do more. That is what these decisions are about.

Under the “Fourth Stage” restrictions, Melbourne residents will only be allowed to exercise for one hour per day and will not be able to travel more than 3 miles from their home for shopping.

Only one person from each household will be able to visit the stores each day.

Nearly empty shelves are seen in the vegetable section of a Melbourne supermarket on Sunday

Nearly empty shelves are seen in the vegetable section of a Melbourne supermarket on Sunday

Supermarkets were inundated with shoppers on Sunday as a fourth stage lockdown is expected to be announced

Supermarkets were inundated with shoppers on Sunday as a fourth stage lockdown is expected to be announced

The Melbourne metropolis will be subject to a nighttime curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. starting Sunday evening, with some exemptions for those providing care and traveling to and from work.

The Victoria area will move to ‘third stage’ restrictions, with restaurants, cafes, bars, gyms and other businesses closed from midnight Wednesday.

The Prime Minister signaled that new announcements would be made at workplaces on Monday, including the shutdown of some industries.

“I want to make sure that all the Victorian supermarkets, the butcher, the baker, the food, drink, groceries, those types of settings, won’t have any impact there,” he said.

Victoria recorded seven new deaths from the coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the national toll to 208, as well as 671 new cases.

Six of the deaths were related to the elderly care sector.

Seventy-three of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks, while 598 remain under investigation.

Although supermarkets are still allowed to operate under the new restrictions, some residents have rushed to the shelves and angered their compatriots who consider panic buying unnecessary.

Buyers have flocked to the South Melbourne market as Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce the start of the Stage Four lockdown on Wednesday.

Buyers have flocked to the South Melbourne market as Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce the start of the Stage Four lockdown on Wednesday.

A long queue lines up outside Melbourne's South Market on Sunday

A long queue lines up outside Melbourne’s South Market on Sunday

Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat rack at her local supermarket

Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat rack at her local supermarket

“What’s up with the panic that seriously buys guys,” one person tweeted.

“Who here thinks the ad is going to be ‘Food is banned, no supermarkets are open for the next six weeks, those who can go that long without food will be the new Melbourne”. “

Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat rack at her local supermarket.

“Panic shopping is in full swing at my local Aldi in Melbourne,” she tweeted.

“Virtually no meat on the shelves.

Others stepped in to defend the sudden surge in buyers.

“People are talking about panicked shopping in Melbourne ahead of tighter lockdowns. Is this a panic buy or just being prepared?

“It makes sense to stock up… the fewer visits to supermarkets, the better. (I know there will always be a few greedy people).

The panic buying comes as Australians face a possible meat shortage, with slaughterhouses and meat factories confirming a number of positive COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus-hit slaughterhouse Cedar Meats confirmed on Friday that another employee tested positive for COVID-19 after working on July 22.

The vegetable section of a Woolworths store in Melbourne is nearly empty as panicked people shop on Sunday

The vegetable section of a Woolworths store in Melbourne is nearly empty as panicked people shop on Sunday

Shoppers were filmed waiting patiently in line with shopping bags outside South Melbourne Market on Sunday

Panic buying comes as Australians face possible meat shortage with slaughterhouses and meat factories confirming number of positive COVID-19 cases

Shoppers were filmed waiting patiently in line with shopping bags outside South Melbourne Market on Sunday

A Woolworths in Melbourne lines up outside his supermarket as panic shopping hits the city

A Woolworths in Melbourne lines up outside his supermarket as panic shopping hits the city

It comes after 111 workers and close contacts at the Melbourne slaughterhouse were forced to self-isolate in April after being diagnosed with the virus.

Three workers at the Australian Meat Group slaughterhouse in Dandenong South have also tested positive for COVID-19.

Patrick Hutchinson, chief executive of the Australian Meat Industry Council, warned that the closures could have a ripple effect across the industry.

“The impacts of any potential closure of processing plants have a continuing effect on our wholesalers and our retail network chains, which ultimately affects our farmers and producers,” Mr. Hutchinson said, The Herald Sun reported. .

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