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COVID-19 panic buying strikes Melbourne as shoppers hit supermarkets head of stage 4 lockdown

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Panic buyers desperate to stock up on essential groceries ahead of an expected stage four lockdown in Victoria have flooded supermarkets across Melbourne

Shoppers in face masks were waiting outside the doors of some stores as early as 7am on Sunday in a bid to snap up dwindling meat supplies before the morning rush.

Thousands of people were seen at South Melbourne Market, despite massive lines for fresh and local produce.  

Butchers and bottle shops were also flooded with customers desperate to stockpile meat and booze before the looming lockdown.

The panic buying has already left fresh meat shelves bare in some Woolworths stores in central Melbourne, angering other locals who have called for calm.   

Panic buyers have crammed into Melbourne supermarkets to stock up on essential groceries ahead of an expected stage four lockdown (pictured, shoppers at the South Melbourne Market on Sunday)

Panic buyers have crammed into Melbourne supermarkets to stock up on essential groceries ahead of an expected stage four lockdown (pictured, shoppers at the South Melbourne Market on Sunday)

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 650 new positive tests as the state's worsening crisis shows no signs ending (pictured, shoppers wearing face masks visit the South Melbourne Market on Sunday)

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 650 new positive tests as the state’s worsening crisis shows no signs ending (pictured, shoppers wearing face masks visit the South Melbourne Market on Sunday)

Racing.com editor in chief Paul Tatnell said one store had likened the rush to holiday shopping. 

‘Lockdown panic is well and truly alive,’ he said.  ‘Shortage of meat and staples already. One shop likened it to the Christmas rush.’ 

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce more than 650 new positive tests and a record number of deaths as the state’s worsening crisis shows no signs ending.

His is also expected to confirm Melbourne will to go into strict Stage 4 lockdown from Wednesday after a week of speculation. 

The state will likely close all but essential businesses and send high-school students back to learning from home.

If they go ahead they will be the harshest restrictions that Australia has seen and will be similar to the lockdown imposed by New Zealand.  

Although supermarkets would still be allowed to operate under the new restrictions, some residents have still rushed to the shelves and angered fellow locals who call the panic buying unnecessary. 

‘What’s up with the panic buying guys seriously,’ one person tweeted.

‘Who here thinks the announcement is gonna be ‘Food is hereby banned, no supermarkets open for the next six weeks, those who can go that long without food will make up the new Melbourne’.’

Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat shelf at her local supermarket.

‘Panic buying in full swing at my local Aldi in Melbourne,’ she tweeted.

Shoppers have rushed to South Melbourne Market as Victoria premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce stage four lockdown will begin on Wednesday

Shoppers have rushed to South Melbourne Market as Victoria premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce stage four lockdown will begin on Wednesday

A long queue is seen lining up outside of the South Melbourne Market on Sunday

A long queue is seen lining up outside of the South Melbourne Market on Sunday

Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat shelf at her local supermarket

Another customer posted a photo of an empty meat shelf at her local supermarket

‘Virtually no meat on the shelves.’ 

Others have stepped in to defend the sudden surge of shoppers.

‘People are talking about panic buying in Melbourne ahead of tighter lockdowns. Is it panic buying or just being prepared? 

‘It makes sense to stock up…the less visits to the supermarkets, the better. (I know there will always be a few greedy people).’

The panic buying comes as Australians face a possible meat shortage with abattoirs and meat factories confirming a number of positive COVID-19 cases.  

On Friday, the coronavirus-stricken abattoir Cedar Meats confirmed that another employee had tested positive for COVID-19 after working on July 22.

Shoppers have been filmed waiting patiently in queue with shopping bags outside of the South Melbourne Market on Sunday

Shoppers have been filmed waiting patiently in queue with shopping bags outside of the South Melbourne Market on Sunday

The panic buying comes as Australians face a possible meat shortage with abattoirs and meat factories confirming a number of positive COVID-19 cases

The panic buying comes as Australians face a possible meat shortage with abattoirs and meat factories confirming a number of positive COVID-19 cases

A Woolworths in Melbourne has shoppers queuing outside its supermarket as panic buying hits the city

A Woolworths in Melbourne has shoppers queuing outside its supermarket as panic buying hits the city

It comes after 111 workers and close contacts of the Melbourne abattoir were forced to self-isolate in April after being diagnosed with the virus. 

Three Australian Meat Group abattoir workers in Dandenong South have also tested positive to COVID-19. 

Patrick Hutchinson, the chief executive of the Australian Meat Industry Council, warned that closures could have a knock-on effect across the industry. 

‘The impacts of any potential closures of processing plants has a flow through effect to our wholesalers and retail network chains, which ultimately affects our farmers and producers,’ Mr Hutchinson said, the Herald Sun reported.  

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