Coronavirus: Three disorder incidents at supermarkets, west Auckland Countdown doors torn open amid panic-buying

A flurry of panic buying within minutes of COVID-19 community transmission being confirmed on Tuesday night has prompted further calls for calm.

Four new cases of COVID-19 were announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Those cases, located in Auckland, have been confirmed as community transmission with no links to overseas travel and the source of their infections is a mystery.

It was also announced Auckland would enter alert level 3 from 12pm on Wednesday and Kiwis immediately flocked to supermarkets in a late-night rush.

Video and photos on Tuesday night showed queues snaking Auckland supermarket doors - queues that have re-emerged on Wednesday ahead of the midday lockdown.

The queue at Countdown Henderson on Wednesday morning.
The queue at Countdown Henderson on Wednesday morning. Photo credit: Newshub.

TVNZ reporter Matt Manukia posted videos on Twitter showing Countdown New Lynn customers chaotically tearing open doors as a security guard struggles to control the influx.

A police spokeswoman told Newshub officers were called to at least three disorder incidents at supermarkets in Auckland on Wednesday night.

"We were called to Takapuna Countdown at around 11pm, Botany Countdown at 10:30pm, New Lynn Countdown at 10:50pm after reports of large crowds at supermarkets," the spokeswoman said, adding no arrests were made.

"Police also visited a number of other supermarkets to provide visibility and reassurance."

She said people need to remain calm and there's no need for panic-buying.

Countdown spokeswoman Kiri Hanifin told RNZ's Lately the franchise had to close its Auckland stores on Tuesday night.

"We're going to put limits on the food that we knew flew out the door so that we can make sure everybody gets some."

Pak'n Save, New World, and Four Square operator Foodstuffs is also assuring customers that supermarkets are prepared. North Island chief executive Chris Quinn said stores are doing everything they can to keep customers safe.  

There's no need to panic-buy and supermarkets will not run out of supplies, he said.