Thursday 22 February 2024
Select a region

'Panic buyers' spark stern warnings

'Panic buyers' spark stern warnings

Sunday 22 March 2020

'Panic buyers' spark stern warnings

Sunday 22 March 2020

As queues formed in car parks, supermarket shelves emptied and security guards were called in to patrol the aisles, a warning had to be sent to people in Guernsey, asking them to please "behave responsibly" as covid-19 starts to take a hold on the island.

17 patients have now been confirmed to have corona virus, with 15 positive test results coming back within 24 hours after a backlog in getting the samples assessed in the UK.

All 17 patients have returned to Guernsey from holidays in Europe recently.

Ahead of the additional 15 positive test results being announced, many people in Guernsey seemed to spend their Saturday stocking up their kitchen cupboards.

Express readers reported seeing:

  • Signs advising shoppers could only buy three of any essential product at Co op stores 
  • Security guards patrolling the aisles at Waitrose on the Rohais
  • Tape on the floor around the tills dictating social distancing at Waitrose stores
  • Queues through the car park of the Co op Grandes Marches in St Martins
  • Similar queues at M&S at L'islet
  • A lack of toilet paper, pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables and meat at stores including Alliance, Waitrose and the smaller Co-ops at various times throughout the day

In addition to the above, Express readers said they also saw supermarket staff continually filling shelves at shops across the islands with plenty of produce available  throughout the day. 

Many people are said to have found their weekly shopping experience "fraught" though with the island's most senior politician issuing a warning that people are "urged to behave responsibly" especially with regards "the importance of social distancing" and "buying only goods that they need".


Pictured: (File image) Freight deliveries are continuing, although the one due in to Guernsey on Saturday was delayed. 

The States assured us on Saturday night that the island has "no current issues with the supply of essential goods". Despite the fact there was a delayed freight delivery on Saturday, staff were seen restocking shop shelves across the island throughout the day.

Retailers have confirmed to Express, through the States, that they have access to product lines and supply lines are being maintained so when the shelves are empty it is being blamed on "current demand outstripping the supply" and that this is "in spite of Condor having increased its freight capacity".

Deputy Gavin St Pier, Chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority, warned "draconian steps" might have to be introduced if the panic buying continues.

"I know this is a stressful time for us all, but as a community we have to remain disciplined and considerate towards each other. Everyone must take social distancing seriously given the clear advice from the Director of Public Health about its benefits as mitigation against the community spread of coronavirus. We are in regular dialogue with retailers who are trying to help, but all of us as their customers must play our part too.


Pictured: Deputy Gavin St Pier chairs the Civil Contingencies Authority which is co-ordinating the Bailiwick's response to corona virus. 

"Likewise, and we have been consistent in this message, there is absolutely no need to buy more than you need. Our current supply lines are strong, they are secure, and retailers have reassured us that they can access the goods the island needs. A freight delivery was late today but that’s an occurrence we have all seen hundreds of times. The biggest cause of temporary shortages of supplies at this stage is our own collective behaviour. Everyone buying more than necessary, needs to just get a grip and not be so selfish. We are all in this for some weeks yet, so it is foolish to think panic buying now is going to meet all your needs over that extended period of indeterminate length. If you are worried about what happens if you self-isolate. Don’t. If friends or family are not in a position to help you then, the community will rally around. We’ve seen plenty of groups setting up for just this type of problem.

"We are implementing proportionate measures to meet the Bailiwick’s needs at each stage of this disease and to safeguard our community. We do not want to take draconian steps, but we have already shown that we will do so when needed and we will have no hesitation in doing so again if we have to. I would urge everyone to heed the advice, maintain social distancing wherever you are and do not buy any more goods than you actually need."

Sign up to newsletter



Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.

There are no comments for this article.

To place a comment please login

You have landed on the Bailiwick Express website, however it appears you are based in . Would you like to stay on the site, or visit the site?