Woolworths Has Reintroduced Limits on Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Across Australia
The move follows "a recent surge in demand across different parts of the country", due to Victoria's recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
UPDATE: JUNE 26, 2020 — Since publication of the below, Coles has also reintroduced nationwide restrictions at all supermarkets, express stores and online. The new limits include one pack per customer of toilet paper and paper towel. Further limits are in place at Victorian supermarkets and those on the NSW border.
Everyone remembers the great supermarket chaos of just a few months back, when stores looked like post-apocalyptic film sets, people were everywhere but shelves were bare. And, as a response to the huge onslaught of panic-buying when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit — with shoppers hoarding everything toilet paper and hand sanitiser to pasta and milk — we all remember the item limits put in place by Aussie chains.
Two months after local supermarkets started to lift those caps (and after the great bog roll crisis of 2020 seemed like it was over), Woolworths is now reintroducing restrictions — on toilet paper and paper towel. It seems that whenever COVID-19 cases start to spike, Aussies just can't stop stocking up on absorbent paper. Indeed, announcing the news today, Friday, June 26, Woolies advised that the decision follows "a recent surge in demand across different parts of the country".
Toilet paper and paper towel will now be limited to two packs per transaction, with the caps in place across the entire nation. On Wednesday, the supermarket chain reintroduced restrictions in Victoria on other everyday items such as flour, sugar, pasta, rice, mince, long-life milk and eggs, too, and Coles followed suit — however Woolies' bog roll and toilet paper rationing is now going country-wide.
Explaining the national rollout, Woolworths Supermarkets Managing Director Claire Peters noted that Woolies has "regrettably started to see elevated demand for toilet roll move outside Victoria in the past 24 hours. While the demand is not at the same level as Victoria, we're taking preventative action now to get ahead of any excessive buying this weekend and help maintain social distancing in our stores."
The key words: 'preventative action'. Woolies stresses that there's no current shortage, it has plenty of stock and it has just ordered 650,000 additional packs — increasing its usual order by more than 30 percent of its usual volumes. Given Australia's TP-buying frenzy back in March, though, you can understand why the supermarket is both stocking up and limiting customer purchases.
No end date has been given, with the restrictions in place for the foreseeable future. "The sooner we see buying patterns return to normal levels, as was the case throughout May and most of June, the quicker we'll be able to wind back limits," said Peters.
Woolies' actions — and the renewed clamouring for the one item no Australian seems to be able to live without — comes in response to Victoria's recent spike in COVID-19 numbers over the past couple of weeks, with new cases on the rise in the state and community transmission levels increasing. As the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) noted in a statement on Sunday, June 21, 83 percent of Australia's newly confirmed COVID-19 cases over the week prior were in Victoria. Of those 116 new Victorian cases in total, 87 "are largely associated with community transmission".
The rising Victorian case numbers have already sparked action at the state government level. Victoria's State of Emergency has been extended for four more weeks, and Premier Daniel Andrews also announced the tightening of some gathering restrictions — reintroducing smaller caps on at-home groups, gatherings out of the house and the numbers of patrons allowed in venues. The state has also singled out ten Melbourne suburbs as hotspots, and is implementing a testing blitz over the next ten days.
To find out more about the status of COVID-19 in Australia and how to protect yourself, head to the Australian Government Department of Health's website.
Published on June 26, 2020 by Sarah Ward