Everyone wants to be ready in times of crisis, but there is a fine line between preparing and panicking. As the number of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK rapidly grows with each passing day, some shoppers having been panic-buying goods like hand sanitiser, toilet paper and certain foods, causing social media to become rife with pictures of empty store shelves.
While stocking up on household goods may seem like a sensible precaution, it is causing even more problems for an already tense public. The government has deemed stockpiling unnecessary amid growing concerns of food shortages on top of concerns of the virus itself.
The fear-motivated shopping is a misguided reaction to the pandemic and everyone would be better off just buying what they need.
Stores have now put measures in place to help avoid shortages. According to BBC News, Tesco’s new policy prevents customers from purchasing more than five of certain items, such as pasta, tinned foods and anti-bacterial products.
Waitrose has begun to limit online orders of wipes and sprays, and shoppers at Boots can now only buy up to two bottles of hand sanitiser.
A government rule preventing supermarkets from receiving deliveries at night has been temporarily dropped in an effort to keep the stores well stocked. The step speaks to the government’s desire to keep people from panicking about food shortages.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC, “We are confident the supermarket supply chains can keep refilling the shelves. There is absolutely no need for anybody to stockpile.”
Frequent hand washing is known to be the best way to prevent catching the virus, causing sanitisers, wipes and gels to sell out at most retailers. As a result, bottles of hand sanitiser have started to pop-up on eBay and Amazon at highly inflated prices.
Stockpiling toilet paper may be short-sighted and silly, but profiting off the scarcity of health saving products is just downright cruel. Stockpilers have decided to place their fears of a small possibility they will not be able to leave their homes in the near future over the present needs of others.
The outages of these products will have more of a negative impact on the people who rely on them, such as health workers, the elderly and the vulnerable, than it will have a positive impact on the people hoarding them. People will have to work together in order to get through a crisis like COVID-19; now is simply no time for selfishness.