Pak'nSave stores are restricting customers and making them queue as they deal with massive amounts of people appearing to panic buy after revelations of New Zealand's first case of coronavirus.
A shopper in Pak'nSave Albany said the store had today put in place a "one in, one out" policy as the queue to get inside was more than 200 people deep. A shopper at Pak'nSave Lincoln Rd said there were queues to "the back of the store" to get to a checkout.
At Pak'nSave Wairau, the store has put a restriction - one per customer - on the number of hand sanitisers people can buy.
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The company's North Island boss Chris Quin today called for calm on social media, asking people to "try and just shop normally and we will make it work".
Meanwhile, a professor of public health has reassured New Zealanders they should go about their "business as usual" after the first confirmed case of coronavirus, and that the risk of contraction is low.
Foodstuff's spokeswoman Antoinette Laird confirmed their stories - which include Pak'nSave, New World and Four Square - were experiencing "unusually high" shopper numbers.
She said as a large New Zealand business it was in contact "with all the relevant authorities and we have well-developed plans in place to ensure we can continue to feed New Zealand and look after our people".
"Due to unusually high shoppers numbers, some stores are taking the decision to restrict the number of customers in store at any one time.
"This decision is being made for the safety and comfort of customers, and will be utilised for short periods as needed. We would ask customers to be patient and work with staff to facilitate the process."
Echoing Quin's tweet, Laird said if customers continued to shop normally stores would have no issues providing the usual range of products.
"We would ask customers to resist the urge to stock up as this simply puts unnecessary pressure on stores."
Since the coronavirus outbreak, demand for hand sanitiser and face masks had "significantly increased around the world".
"Some stores may be completely out of stock and others may have quantity limitations in place.
"We are continuing to work closely with vendors to secure as much stock as possible, and exploring sourcing new brands to fill the gap, but volumes are limited due to international demand.
"If a customer's local store is sold out of the antibacterial products they are looking for, we ask for patience as we secure more stock and get it on store shelves."