Panic buying has broken out across Greater Brisbane as the city prepares to enter a strict three day lockdown from Friday evening.
Despite pleas from the Queensland Premier and chief health officer, queues quickly formed outside the city’s supermarkets and shelves were rapidly emptied.
Under the lockdown, residents of Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Logan, Redlands and Ipswich City Council areas will only be allowed to leave their homes for four reasons: to attend work if they can’t work from home; to buy essentials including groceries and medicine; to look after the vulnerable; and to exercise within their neighbourhood.
The strict rules, in place from 6pm Friday to 6pm Monday, have been introduced as authorities battle to ensure an “incredibly contagious” mutant strain of COVID-19 from the UK does not spread throughout Brisbane.
On Thursday it was revealed a cleaner in a quarantine hotel had contracted the mutant strain and was unknowingly infectious in the community for five days.
On Friday morning chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young urged Brisbane residents not to panic buy.
“There is absolutely no issue, all our shops are fully stocked, there will be nothing stopping that from happening,” Dr Young said.
“There will be no need to buy up big. If you’ve got enough for the next three days, stay home and wait to do your shopping until next week.”
But almost immediately at Lutwyche Market Central on Brisbane’s northside, cars were backed up around the block as they waited for a free carpark, and huge lines formed outside the centre’s three supermarkets.
Trolley bays were stripped empty, and extra staff had to be called in to manage the hundreds of shoppers.
The variant authorities fear could be circulating within the Brisbane community is at least 70 per cent more infectious than previous strains of the virus.
“This can spread very rapidly if it gets hold. My hope is that it hasn’t taken hold,” Dr Young said.
Masks have also been made mandatory when outside the home.