18 November 2020 08:45
Images and videos circulating on social media show long queues at supermarkets and shelves stripped bare of toilet rolls. Panic buying started on Tuesday, a day ahead of Mr Marshall's lockdown announcement, as the Adelaide cluster grew. Nine News has reported that supplies of tissues, meat and eggs were running low in some stores on Wednesday afternoon, while at least one supermarket had run out of toilet paper. Loading Replay Replay video Play video Play video Late on Wednesday afternoon, Woolworths announced two-item limits on more than 50 types of products including meats, canned foods, toilet paper, milk, rice and pasta. Woolworths South Australian general manager Karl Weber said the state's supermarkets had high stock levels and reminded customers that supermarkets would stay open during the lockdown.
"We understand this is an anxious time for our South Australian customers, but we encourage everyone to continue shopping as they usually would and only buy what they need," he said. South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens cautioned people against panic buying. "There is no need for people to rush to supermarkets," he said. "And if you do go shopping this afternoon, you should expect that you will be managed by staff at the supermarkets and we will have police officers on standby to attend if we see any civil disorder and we would take action. The head of South Australia's retail union implored the government to deploy police to protect the safety of shop workers.
"The state government's announcement is causing chaos," said SDA state secretary Josh Peak. "There is a run on the shops." He said shoppers should stop panic buying because supermarkets would remain open even during the lockdown. A similar rush on groceries and supplies occurred across the country in March when a national lockdown was enforced in the early stages of the pandemic. The phenomenon, which also took place overseas, prompted supermarkets to place limits on the number of certain goods an individual could buy. The state's Chief Health Officer, Nicola Spurrier, called on South Australians to look out for frail people during the lockdown, which will keep residents confined to their homes for all but essential reasons. "What can we do to support you and that is the sort of community spirit I know that South Australians' have." South Australian police are set to enforce the tight restrictions which include allowing only one person per household out of their homes once a day. We need breathing space for a contact tracing blitz to protect the elderly, to protect the vulnerable, to protect our entire community." Why do people panic buy? Australians use about 88 toilet paper rolls per person, or slightly less than two rolls a week, over the course of the year, according to data from German market research company Statista. This means a family of four would need about 15 rolls for a 14-day quarantine period. In early March, top-trending topics on Twitter in Australia were #toiletpapergate and #toiletpapercrisis, as people stockpiled the bathroom essential. Shelves at some supermarkets were stripped bare on Tuesday after the South Australia COVID cluster grew. David Savage, an expert in behavioural economics at the University of Newcastle, said two key drivers of human behaviour lead to panic buying: loss aversion and herd behaviour. Dr Savage said images of empty supermarket shelves prompt people to believe there will be a shortage, and humans are "loss averse". Once people see empty shelves, herd theory kicks in, he said. This prompts more people to buy toilet paper, for example, because they have instinctual trust in the judgment of others who buy up big before them. "And when herd behaviour kicks in and loss aversion kicks in, everyone is in," Dr Savage said. South Australia will enter a hard lockdown for six days, casting fresh doubt on the prospect of the first cricket Test being staged in Adelaide in less than a month. SA Premier Steven Marshall issued a stay-at-home edict in response to the Covid-19 cluster in Adelaide's northern suburbs, with the restrictions even extending to leaving home for exercise. The four-Test series between Australia and India starts on 17 December. Cricket Australia rushes players into NSW amid Adelaide Covid outbreak Read more Cricket Australia remains committed to hosting the pink-ball Test at Adelaide Oval. But the governing body is monitoring the situation closely and proved on Tuesday, when it arranged for every Adelaide-based Big Bash League player to leave the city for Coffs Harbour, it is capable of acting proactively and quickly. There were two new coronavirus cases reported in Adelaide on Wednesday, when Marshall declared his government would "throw absolutely everything at this". If CA is forced to shift the much-anticipated match – Virat Kohli's only Test this summer – then the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sydney Cricket Ground and Manuka Oval are three obvious options. The MCG is yet to be put on standby for the first Test but Melbourne Cricket Club chief Stuart Fox said his venue will be ready to stage the series opener if asked. Both Test squads will already be in Sydney because of the limited-overs series and Australia A games. The New South Wales-Victoria border is set to open next week, meaning there should be few logistical issues if broadcasters and officials are asked to relocate to Melbourne after the white-ball action. Victoria was at risk of losing the Boxing Day Test at the peak of its health crisis but has now reported 19 consecutive days without a new Covid-19 case. "I'm not picking up the phone to Cricket Australia. "I'm sure if they needed a back-up venue, the MCG is a possibility. It [Adelaide Oval] is a very iconic Test over there. The drop-in MCG wicket for last year's Test was graded very good by the match referee, coming after two years of flat Boxing Day pitches that were widely panned by players, officials and pundits. The MCG's current decks were set to be tested out by Victoria players on Tuesday but that hit was cancelled because the squad had returned from the Sheffield Shield hub in Adelaide. "We need a bit of talent out there to test the pitches," Fox said.