An elderly woman has broken down in tears inside a Coles supermarket after arriving in the canned food aisle to bare shelves, stripped of product by “selfish” panic buyers.
A heartbreaking image of the woman, taken inside the Port Melbourne supermarket at midday on Thursday, highlighted the devastating impact bulk buying was having on vulnerable people as coronavirus continues its spread.
The photo, shared to Twitter by Nine News reporter Seb Costello, sparked an outpouring of emotion from the public, with many expressing their willingness to help the lady and others currently suffering.
“Honestly, that is the picture that captures this madness,” one person responded.
“This really breaks my heart, the elderly have already given to society, why aren’t we looking after them?” another said.
“This absolutely breaks my heart. If I knew where this lady lives, I’d help her out with food etc in a heartbeat. This has to stop now,” a third wrote.
One lady claimed she “sobbed for 10 minutes” after seeing the image, and hoped “someone helped her fill her basket” and made sure she was OK at home.
Others shared similarly shocking events they had witnessed during the COVID-19 chaos.
“I was told that the 92 year-old mum of a friend had a tin of tomato soup snatched from her hand at a supermarket in Ryde earlier this week. Disgraceful behaviour,” one wrote.
Midday today.— Seb Costello (@SebCostello9) March 19, 2020
Port Melbourne Coles.
Canned food aisle.
I’m told she was in tears.
This captures who is suffering from the me-first, unnecessary, trend of panic buying.
As @ScottMorrisonMP it “has to stop”. @9NewsAUS @theage @ACurrentAffair9 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/sFMx8RFeb7
Someone else said that during the one-hour designated shopping time enforced by Woolworths this week, they had seen young people push past staff checking ID at the door, to get inside before the elderly and vulnerable people.
One suggested trolleys be removed as an option for shoppers, forcing them to limit the number of items they purchased at a time.
“Taking the trolleys away is a great idea and also limiting every single item in the whole place to one. And holding essentials out the back for the elderly that come in throughout the day,” they wrote.
Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have enforced strict purchasing limits on certain goods in measures designed to curb panic buying and keep product on shelves for those who need it.
The methods, however, seems to have made little difference, with many shoppers still reporting difficulty in getting their hands on essential items like toilet paper, hand sanitiser, pasta, rice and canned goods.
Coles announced this week the suspension of its delivery service to the general public, saying it would make exceptions for its “most vulnerable” customers.
Woolworths has taken a similar measure and stopped all deliveries in Victoria and removed its Click and Collect option.
Both Coles and Woolworths have implemented changes to how they deliver products, ensuring drivers and customers have no need to come within close physical contact.
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