Coronavirus sees frenzied shoppers defy advice and queue to strip supermarkets

Frenzied Brit shoppers continue to strip supermarket shelves bare as fears mount over the coronavirus outbreak.

Shocking pictures show shoppers lining up outbreak supermarkets before they open to get first-dibs on many household essentials.

Supermarkets have been struggling to keep shelves full of a range of products such as loo roll, painkillers, soaps and dried foods amid panic-buying and stockpiling.

Several have imposed three-item limits on products, limited its range of stock and shrunk opening hours to help keep products available.

The British prime minister urged people in his daily press conference on March 19 to be reasonable in their shopping as supermarkets emptied out of crucial items.

The government said it was temporarily relaxing elements of competition law to allow supermarkets to work together to maintain supplies.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock issued a warning today that "people need to shop responsibly and buy only what they need".

Sainsbury's and Iceland have all set aside the first hour for pensioners and vulnerable shoppers, and Tesco and Asda join them from Friday.

One supermarket told the BBC today there were no formal plans with the government to bring police into shops but it was "subject that was being discussed internally".

It comes amidst horror stories of pensioners facing empty shelves due to panic buying and a lack of home delivery slots, and uniformed police reportedly seen outside shops.

Tesco, the UK's largest chain, is also ramping up measures to help customers social distance as coronavirus panic buying continues – by taping off exclusion zones in front of tills.

Workers "on the front line" during the coronavirus pandemic are sticking hazard tape to the floor to help customers keep their distance from another as they rush to buy daily supplies.

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Black and yellow lines have already been stuck to the floor in front of the tills at some Tesco Express stores where customers are being encouraged to remain one metre apart and stand back from the tills.

Shoppers must remain outside the taped area until asked by a cashier to enter, once the staff member has stepped back towards the wall, according to Tesco staff.

The panic buying has led to many vital items running, including baby formula.

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The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said it was concerned that mothers struggling to access the appropriate formula milk may be forced to resort to unsafe feeding practices, such as diluting existing stock.

A spokeswoman at the British Retail Consortium said: "Retailers are working as hard as they can to restock as quickly as possible and get products onto their shelves.
"However, it's really important people support each other and stop panic-buying so that everyone can access the products they need."

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