As more governments advised people to curtail their movements in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19, it prompted panic buying sprees – with people showing distinct regional differences in their ‘must have’ items.
Fears of being unable to get hold of the bare essentials if forced to hole up at home for weeks on end as the deadly virus sweeps the globe saw thousands rush to the supermarkets and clear whole shelves of groceries in record time. Despite widely issued guidelines on minimum ‘social distancing’, some were prepared to queue for long hours to make sure they got that one essential thing before heading home and closing the gate.
The trend seemed to kick off in Australia, with scenes of panic-purchases of toilet paper descending into heated arguments and fistfights. Concern over toilet paper – which, on the whole, seems not to be of particular use in defending against (or treating) Covid-19 – then spread worldwide.
#BREAKING: A scuffle broke out at a Woolworths in Chullora this morning with patrons coming to blows over toilet paper, forcing employees to intervene. Bankstown police attended the scene and no charges have been laid. #9Newspic.twitter.com/9TmDAStb9D
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) March 7, 2020
In the Netherlands, many hit the streets last weekend to make sure they weren’t going to be caught short of weed after the government announced all coffee shops would shut amid the outbreak:
You know that you are in The Netherlands when restaurants have to close at 6pm and everybody rushes to the coffeeshop to get weed😂 pic.twitter.com/Gloyt7cw6A
— Tim Hermans (@HermansTHJ) March 15, 2020
Perhaps thinking they’re going to be in this for the long haul, Irish people went big and stocked up on spare fridge freezers, with Dublin electrical retailers telling local media last week that they had entirely sold out of the appliances.
Meanwhile in California, one of the three worst-affected US states since the outbreak, people were filmed forming long lines outside of gun stores, presumably thinking that in a worst-case scenario of widespread shortages and looting, at least they’ll be armed to the teeth.
There’s been a run on buckwheat in Russia, with residents favoring a foodstuff with a helpfully long shelf-life amid uncertainty over just what kind of timeline the coronavirus has in store for us, or if supply chains of basic foodstuffs will struggle as Covid-19 tightens its grip.
Those with a sweeter tooth have also been lining their larders, with maple syrup suppliers in Canada saying they’ve had a huge rush of orders from supermarkets – mostly in the US – due to concerns that shipping routes could be impacted several months down the line from now.
While almost three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec, Canada, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers is well-stocked against any pandemic, boasting a ‘strategic reserve’ of about 80,000 barrels.
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