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:
- long life milk
- frozen vegetables
- frozen potatoes
- frozen fruit
- frozen fish
- frozen poultry
- fresh milk
- frozen pizza
- frozen party snacks
- frozen meals
- frozen seafood
- chilled juice
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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