Supermarkets around the country are being inundated as New Zealanders stock up before a Government-imposed lockdown tomorrow.Supermarkets and grocery stores are classed as essential services and will remain open after the lockdown, but many people are still crowding into their aisles to fill their trolleys before New Zealand goes to Alert Level 4.
Last night, Pak'nSave Wairau Park closed temporarily due to too many people wanting to get in, and a queue at Pak'nSave Sylvia Park snaked right through the mall. Staff members were hastily putting up signs urging people to shop normally.
Today, queues have been forming outside supermarkets around the country.
At Paraparaumu Pak'nSave, Kim Kraus said she had to shop for the people she cared for. She worked for MASH Trust, which looked after disabled people and people with mental health conditions.
"We are encouraging our clients to stay in the van so we shop for them," said Kraus, who was wearing protective equipment.
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"We've been asked to mask up and wear gloves, just to be safe, and keep them away from others as well.
"We've got to work, so it's a bit scary with family at home."
Another shopper, Graham Chapman, from Raumati, said he had begun wearing a mask after a case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the Kapiti area.
He said the panic shopping following the outbreak had been "truly phenomenal".
"I got some chicken feed, bananas, milk and oranges - so, no panic here."
Foodstuffs, which owns Pak'nSave and New World, introduced measures yesterday to protect shoppers and staff and help vulnerable people get their groceries.
Staff will wear masks and perspex screens are being put up at check-outs. Markings on the floor will indicate 1.5-metre distances for shoppers.
"We ask all customers to please comply with store signage and staff direction to maintain physical distancing," the company said.
Foodstuffs asked people to only have one person from a family come into their stores to limit numbers and reduce chances of contact. People should also use contactless credit or EFTPOS cards.
It reiterated that people should keeping "shopping normally" because their supermarkets would be open throughout the lockdown. This would ensure that elderly and vulnerable people did not miss out on essential products.
"We continue to ask customers to not stockpile. This is so everyone has a fair shot at buying their grocery essentials.
"When someone buys five packs of toilet paper, and they only need one, they are taking away from four other people who may have needed it. Some customers might not have the resources to buy up or the ability to visit the store every day. Please buy what you need and be fair to others."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this morning that panic shopping continued to be "particularly problematic".
"It doesn't seem to matter how many times we say to people that we consider supermarkets essential services, we've guaranteed that they will remain open and we're working to support them on that," she told Newstalk ZB.
"But it's human nature, and we have to build in human nature to our thinking on how we stop the spread of Covid as well."