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British Supermarkets Ration Key Goods Amid Coronavirus Panic Shopping

Cases are still in the 200s, but Tesco and Waitrose are having to ration milk, beans, and toilet roll

UK Braces For Rising Incidence Of COVID-19
Empty shelves at Tesco as coronavirus panic shopping rises in the UK
Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Novel coronavirus stockpiling puts supermarkets on watch

The COVID-19 coronavirus has caused fewer than 300 cases in the U.K., but British supermarkets, including Tesco and Waitrose, are already limiting purchases on essential goods and supplies as the population panic buys in anticipation of potential self-isolation and/or quarantine.

Tesco has limited dry pasta, UHT milk, and tinned vegetables both in-store and online according to the BBC, with Waitrose introducing similar restrictions and both supermarkets controlling sales of hand sanitiser and alcohol wipes. What they can’t stop is online profiteering, with Ebay resellers and charlatans on other platforms reselling soaps and sanitisers at hugely inflated prices.

This feedback loop of panic —> empty shelves on social media —> more panic does not constitute an actual shortage of either food or soap; buying bottled water is also a lot, with COVID-19 extremely unlikely to lead to water supplies being compromised. Preparation, vigilance on symptoms, and handwashing to a favourite pop chorus are all solid steps against novel coronavirus: stocking up on beans is not. [BBC]

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