Coronavirus: Pak'nSave supermarkets limit essentials, introduce 'elderly aisle' in wake of panic-buying

Several supermarkets in Aotearoa are making changes to the way people shop in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Fights have already broken out and supermarket aisles have been cleared of toilet paper, cleaning supplies and bulk food items, as coronavirus panic sweeps the globe. 

Now several Pak'nSaves around New Zealand are introducing item limits and specialty asiles for shopping. 

Pak'nSave Taupo posted a notice on its Facebook page on Wednesday, announcing their new customer limits. 

"As a responsible retailer, we believe that everyone in the community should have access to their share of grocery items," the post reads.

A limit of two per customer was imposed on items like rice, chicken, vegetable & canola oil, flour and toilet paper, while a limit of three per customer was placed on frozen chips and  vegetables. 

On Friday, The Warehouse also announced shopping limits on cleaning products, household items, pantry stocks and more. 

Another Pak'nSave branch has reportedly introduced a special aisle for the elderly, to help them avoid the spread of germs and bulk panic-buying of other customers.

A sign reading 'elderly customers only' has been erected at an aisle at Gisborne Pak'nSave, according to a  photo posted to a local community page. 

Coronavirus: Pak'nSave supermarkets limit essentials, introduce 'elderly aisle' in wake of panic-buying
Photo credit: Facebook.

"We apologise for any inconvenience, we want to look after all our customers," the sign reads. 

Pak'Save's parent company Foodstuffs has not responded to Newshub for comment over whether the aisle will be brought in stores nationwide. 

The move follows an initiative from Australian supermarket Woolworths giving elderly and vulnerable customers an exclusive shopping hour across the country. 

Woolworths' New Zealand counterpart Countdown has no plans to follow suit at this stage, but said in a statement to Newshub on Wednesday that it is in contact with a range of agencies and charity partners around how best to support their "elderly and vulnerable customers". 

"We'll be monitoring this in the days and weeks ahead to ensure we are providing more support where it is needed," the Countdown spokesperson said.