Coles and Woolworths reinstate product purchase limits

Product limits apply to stores in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.

woolworths self checkout closed due to pandemic

Supermarkets are reintroducing product limits as a spike in COVID-19 cases sees panic buyers again stockpiling essential items.

Woolworths has announced more product limits and will bring in nurses to look after staff in Melbourne coronavirus hotspots.

Purchase limits of two items now apply to 18 products, including frozen vegetables, fresh bread, chilled fresh milk, pre-packed meat products and tissues.

Coles and Woolworths had already placed limits on a range of products last week after panic buying set in at some Melbourne supermarkets.

Coles has now expanded purchase restrictions across its Victorian outlets, as well as Tasmanian and some southern NSW outlets such as Lavington, Albury and Deniliquin. It blamed the restrictions on supply chain issues after six workers at its Laverton distribution centre contracted the coronavirus.

Coles has been working with the Victorian Health Department to conduct contact tracing for cases and a “significant proportion” of employees at the centre are now self-isolating.

“Of the team members who have tested positive, none have been present at the Laverton distribution centre since June 25,” said Coles in a statement, adding that the reduced number of workers at the distribution centre has “temporarily impacted our ability to replenish our Victorian stores with chilled and fresh produce lines.”

New product limits of two items per customer apply to chilled products including fresh milk, cheese, butter, margarine, chicken breast, chicken thighs, pre-packed carrots and pre-packed potatoes. Two pack limits also apply to ambient and frozen products including canned tomatoes, canned beans, canned garden vegetables, pasta sauce, canned fruit, canned baked beans and spaghetti, canned meat and frozen fruit and vegetables.

Coles product limits of two items per customers already applied to pasta, mince, flour, eggs, hand sanitiser, UHT milk, sugar and rice. One-pack limits apply on toilet paper and paper towel packs in all states.

Woolworths will put nurses into hotspot stores, distribution centres and customer online fulfilment centres to conduct compulsory temperature checks on staff at those sites.

“We want to reassure everyone in Victoria that our distribution centres, customer online fulfilment centre and our supermarkets remain open and will continue to operate as essential services for the customers and communities that depend on them,” said managing director Claire Peters.

“If you’re in a hotspot area, we would encourage you to consider doing your grocery shopping online if possible. Together with our on-demand courier partners, we are able to fulfil thousands of extra orders each week.”

Woolworths has increased its online order and delivery capacity for people in hotspot suburbs and has extended the duration of its vulnerable team leave entitlements until 29 July, enabling staff to return to work only when it is safe to do so.

Apart from the national two-pack limit per customer per shop on toilet paper, paper towel, gloves and handwash, Woolworths has also reinstated product limits (Victoria only) of two packets per customer per shop on items including:

  • flour
  • sugar
  • pasta
  • mince
  • long life milk
  • eggs
  • rice
  • frozen vegetables
  • frozen potatoes
  • frozen fruit
  • frozen fish
  • frozen poultry
  • sausages
  • burgers
  • fresh milk
  • frozen pizza
  • frozen party snacks
  • frozen meals
  • frozen seafood
  • chilled juice
  • tissues.

It has also implemented limits to online purchases of:

  • frozen vegetables (including potatoes)
  • pre-packed carrots
  • pre-packed potatoes
  • bread – from the instore bakery
  • packaged bacon
  • hand sanitiser.

Woolworths reiterated that it already has a number of social distancing and safety measures in place across Victoria, with staff wiping down trolleys and monitoring social distancing around checkouts.

“The safety of customers and Woolworths team members remains the key priority,” said Woolworths in a statement.

Do you feel safe at your supermarket? How will the product limits affect you?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    6th Jul 2020
    Why are supermarkets putting restrictions on toilet paper, tissues, and so on in Sydney? A lot of the shelves are empty?
    6th Jul 2020
    The shelves are empty because so many people have bought heaps of packs of toilet paper etc. I don't know which state it was in put a car was seen with 16 large packs of toilet paper in it. A couple had gone into a supermarket a few times and gone to a different checkout each time. The manufacturers can't keep up with supply even though they have a lot extra staff working 3 shifts - 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

    The same applies to some food products. There is a lot of restrictions on basic food too. Some people make a lot of food from scratch using flour, sugar, pasta, rice etc. They are rationed. They're rationed bread in some places. With flour being rationed they can't even make their own bread.

    Not everybody has a computer or the ability to order on-line.

    Like other people I know with medical problems we have to be able to check the ingredients in any food or drinks we consume. I can't consume anything containing seeds, spices, herbs or acidic. There is many people who have wheat allergy or Coeliac Disease and can't have anything containing wheat, rye, barley or oats at all. Even some salad dressings (including mayonnaise) and sauces (incuding tomato), soups, lollies have one of those products in them. Those grains = gluten.
    7th Jul 2020
    Blossom, I just don't understand why people bother with processed foods when they claim a health disorder, then complain that their over priced unhealthy packets are temporarily unavailable. I haven't bought salad dressing for close to three decades (it lakes less than a minute to make your own and you know exactly what is in it). Likewise soups. Just how hard is it to throw whatever you have in the fridge into a pot then either put it in a blender or eat it in the chunky state? There was someone else recently bemoaning the fact they 'have to' pay $7 dollars for a loaf of bread and something like $8 for 250g of 'cheese' plus other high amounts for rice 'milk'. Clearly this person is on a vegan/vegetarian diet and buying manufactured substitutes for non vegan/vegetarian foods. My question is why? And if you do that is your choice. A plant based diet can be a wonderful thing with foods sourced from the fresh food section of the supermarket. Not to mention things like rice 'milk' are very easy to make at home - you just need rice and water! And it is cheaper than a box full of 'extras'.

    And before there is the expected 'pile-on' yes I have my own food challenges I have dealt with for decades - well before all these now processed frankinfoods were available, which is why I don't understand the ridiculous reliance on manufactured foods the like of which are completely unnecessary.
    6th Jul 2020
    Two sides to most stories.
    Now we have to go out more often to go shopping.
    There is a difference between over buying and buying on a shopping cycle EG Fortnightly
    Wendy HK
    6th Jul 2020
    Correct! We shop on pension day and eg. use one pack of UHT milk per day so we buy 14 on pension day.
    Now we have to go out every second day for milk therefore increasing our exposure to other people.
    6th Jul 2020
    If they don’t do it there will be nothing to buy at all!!
    6th Jul 2020
    Supermarkets are an essential service yet there seems no way to make them Covid Catching proof, - social distancing fails and must fail unless the numbers inside are tiny, and every single customer is followed by a protective suited staff with a sprayer to spray each item that customer touched and the floor they walked on, and the air they breathe immediately sucked out above them and vented to atmosphere.
    Not to mention the huge crowds waiting outside with queue jumpers disregarding social distancing so as push past and push in, and spit on anyone with a mask or not who would hinder their selfish idiocy.
    So, What to Do, we all have to eat.
    My Proposal is that the Supermarkets, with Govt. assistance, install a number of booths Outside the supermarket, - sheltered, but in the open air, possibly up against the walls of the Supermarket, whatever, and in each booth is an Audio - Visual Screen which allows the customer to see clearly and talk to the Cash-out person at their cash register, who sees and talks to them, - almost as if they were breathing the same air But, They are Not.
    The Customer discusses their order, which the cashout person enters as they so do, so it creeps down a part of the screen, - easy for the customer to see, and change, as they go, until the customer has finished, upon which they agree, and swipe their card on the card swipe there also, - perhaps on the screen?. The booth will also contain some wipes, a security camera and a small nozzle to spray a mist of non invasive disinfectant over everything when the customer leaves. The customer then leaves
    the booth, which no-one can enter until they have left, the spray instantaneously sprays, then the door opens to the next customer, who may need to wipe the screen or whatever, but then says hello, perhaps they know the cashier, quick personal greeting and does their order, and so on, just as if they were IN the super market, but they are not, no one can cough on anyone, breathe near anyone, jostle anyone, - nothing is touched that can carry Covid to anyone else, that Covid Vector is closed. Full Stop.
    Meanwhile the customer moves around the side of the building to where there are numbered schutes that will deliver their bagged order to them, Well supervised to ensure every body gets their correct order by scanning their receipt in, they pick up their order and go, some may need a trolley that wll be ready for them, then they go, - room for next person to access that schute, life goes on, Covid doesn't get spread.
    This is not an expensive thing to do, - most supermarkets have cash registers connected to wifi that could easily fit into such a system, the same staff normally required should be able to handle the picking instead of the packing, so nobody lose their jobs, supermarkets already have limited time to be open for 24 hours, the Govt could make it only supermarkets with the screens have 24 hours so they lose no money, we already have over the screen doctors, many supermarkets have no cash register, do it your self sections so those folk will be more savvy to the new regime, it should not be a problem.
    The real problem is covid 19, - and the next pandemic, etc. lock down is fine, confining it to just that family, problem is when somebody in that family goes to the supermaket, - there they spread it to another family, - nobody knows until someone gets really really sick and they have to go to a doctor or hospital, - but the cat is then out of the bag, some chance encounter at the Supermarket blows all the care and testing and everything, it is the loaded covid gun at our throats.
    At the least Premier, Brian Andrews of Victoria should be given this option, I have tried ringing his departments, got no where, people are dying because nobody can imagine doing anything differently. hopefully someone in YLC or any of you, my fellow YLC members can pass this idea on.
    Admittedly more would also need to be done to make sure folk do not bunch up outside the booths, - but with like airports, zig-zag lines, security of some degree, spreading it over 24 or so hours, all could be fine and fair and safe.

    As the numbers rise, - and could so easily spread to other states, - and probably will, I despair that such an easy solution to probably THE major vector, Supermarkets, and probably could be used by much other retail as well, is just ignored.
    6th Jul 2020
    LF, you haven't put much thought into this have you.

    As far as I can see, all you've accomplished is to move the huge crowd of virus carriers down along the footpath a bit so they can jostle and fight over each booth as they become available.
    And this footpath is now almost non-existent as you've covered it with expensive on-line shopping booths.

    If I am going to shop on-line, I will be doing from the comfort of my virus free home.
    7th Jul 2020
    Premier Brian Andrews? Of Victoria? No wonder they don't take your calls.

    Like Hawkeye, I can see no value to what you are suggesting, except for the electronic companies who would have a field day installing all the hardware, software to run it and than train both the public and the shop assistants to use it. The of course the long delays in the queue to use such equipment as people have lengthy chats over every product they want to buy before agreeing to add it to the list and execute the cash free payment.

    Meanwhile millions complete their order on-line from the comfort of their own home and have the order delivered faster than the time taken for your suggestion.

    Yeah. Nah. Thanks for coming.
    6th Jul 2020
    Some States should not have relaxed restrictions so soon. All people coming from overseas MUST produce a "Free from Virus" certificate from their departure place before they are allowed to move from the arrival airport to where ever they are going.
    7th Jul 2020
    "Free from virus" certificates are completely useless. They tell you exactly nothing and even less after a 24 hour flight to Australia from Europe which itself may well be several days after having the test done in the first place.

    Much like the previously much touted 'immunity certificates' this will go nowhere. Even testing for previous infection by identifying antibodies cannot be said to provide any degree of safety as far as immunity goes. Antibodies have been shown to be very short lived and therefore not any kind of indicator of immunity either short nor long term. Further, there is no evidence that antibodies are longer lasting even if they are identified a few weeks after a known infection.

    Given that almost all arrivals from overseas are actually Australians or permenant residents, you cannot legally ban them from coming here. What you can do is isolate them, test them and not allow them to leave until and unless they deliver two negative test results. This is what was missing in Victoria!
    6th Jul 2020
    H K, yes I have, probably you didn't read it to the end, and also it would not suit all supermarkets, only those with large areas around them, - carparks and such, where folk can be distanced safely.
    You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs so organising folk outside would have to have every thing covered, - some supermarkets may have to be closed, no doubt they could help others with home deliveries etc.
    The point is, many people can't get home deliveries, no supermarkets seem to be able to achieve more than 40% and they are sunsidising them also so prices will have to rise before long.
    Another element is home deliveries are very impersonal, my suggestion is personal, - you see and talk to your cashier who responds likewise to you, and you can see friends in town and go to other shops also, - it maintains some elements of human community.
    Unfortunately, many older folk have no computer nor know how to use one if they had one, and with full lockdown they can't get anyone to just come around any time.

    During Lock-Down up here, supermarkets had special times just for older folk, although some younger folk disrespected that, it could and maybe has to be enforced more strongly, - that would be an unwelcome creation of those selfish ones.
    Winston Smith
    6th Jul 2020
    Can sort of understand people hoarding dried and frozen food, but hoarding fresh milk makes no sense at all. As a lad originally from dairy country, I can assure you the cows don't stop producing it.
    And what do you do with the extra milk you buy? It's a product where the Use By dates do actually matter.
    6th Jul 2020
    You can freeze milk. We have done it in the past in case some of us got sick and couldn't go shopping.
    Winston Smith
    7th Jul 2020
    It separates.
    7th Jul 2020
    So shake to carton Winston Smith. Problem solved.
    7th Jul 2020
    Lived on an island for 8 years, powdered milk does work in tea, try it. Not as good as UHT but sometimes "Needs Must When the Devil Drives" as the old timers told me. They seem to have coped under more dreary circumstances.
    6th Jul 2020
    It just increase the risk for the already vulnerable. Speaking personally, we shop weekly, online for deliveries to the home. Because of medical conditions we require 12 to 15 litres of milk per week. That is purchased in 4 or 5 x 3 litre bottles. To obtain my pre-purchased discount delivery charge. I have to but a minimum of $100 of groceries in a delivery, and is confined to deliveries on Tuesday to Thursday only. There is no way that I can arrange for two to three deliveries per week, at $100+ per time. So I either get $50+ deliveries (minimum amount for a delivery), Or I have to physically go to Woolworths supermarket, thus exposing us to greater risk of catching the virus, despite taking all personal precautions. One would think that as the computer records show our buying patter is not panic buying of extra milk, allowance could be made to continue purchasing at out normal rates for our deliveries.
    6th Jul 2020
    Why are Tamanian suopermarkets affected. We are not panic buying here, never have been.
    6th Jul 2020
    Supermarkets, if they are bringing restrictions must be very strict about it. The last time people were just not sticking to the rules. People, please purchase only what you need on a weekly or fortnightly basis and they will be plenty of stock for everyone.
    7th Jul 2020
    Well the supermarkets have now removed all restrictions on goods except toilet paper.

    As I have repeatedly said, there is no need to panic buy anything.
    Winston Smith
    7th Jul 2020
    There is once others start panic buying.
    7th Jul 2020
    I have 5 adults and one 12 year old living in my house. Some of the restrictions make it a bit difficult for us, but on the whole we are managing. We use a lot of pasta, rice and flour for cooking which occasionally run out.

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