Coronavirus: Strict order forced on French shoppers as European retailers struggle to meet demand

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Following days of panic buying in French supermarkets, owners have enforced strict rules on shoppers as the country comes to terms with the new coronavirus lock down.

The scenes of French customers queuing to enter local supermarkets since a national lock down came into force on has been in stark contrast to the days prior when fights broke out over toilet paper and shelves were stripped bare.

Le Figaro reported in the streets of Paris, shop owners had put signs in their windows telling customers to enter one by one. The result in front of a local Carrefour supermarket in the French capital was a long line running down the street.

Others had enforced more stringent measures, barricading their doors and serving customers outside.

“They will be cold, but it is better than nothing, it is for our own protection and theirs at the same time," the owner of a grocery store in Paris’ 18th arrondissement told the French daily.

Medical staff push a patient on a gurney to a waiting medical helicopter at the Emile Muller hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France. AFP

An Indian man shows his stamped hand, indicating that the person is under 'home quarantine', in Mumbai, India. EPA

Judie Shape, centre, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, but isn't showing symptoms, presses her hand against her window after a visit through the window and on the phone with her daughter Lori Spencer, left, and her son-in-law Michael Spencer, at the Life Care Center in Kirkland. AP Photo

A single worshipper wearing a surgical mask sits on a pew in Westminster Cathedral in central London. AFP

People confined at their homes sing and dance from their windows to bolster themselves up during a lockdown in Madrid. AFP

A person walks on the deserted Passerelle du Palais de Justice in Lyon, central eastern France as a strict lockdown comes into in effect. AFP

Soldiers stand guard on road leading to a quarantine faciltity for people returning from Iran via the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan, in Sukkur in southern Sindh province. AFP

A passenger wearing protective clothing uses a self check-in machine at Incheon international airport, west of Seoul. AFP

Workers cheer themselves after loading travellers onto buses outside the New China International Exhibition Centre, near Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing. AFP

A nurse wearing a facemask walks outside the entrance of Sri Lanka's Infectious Diseases Hospital near Colombo. AFP

People queue for groceries at a supermarket in Singapore. AFP

A medical worker tests a person for the coronavirus at a drive-through facility primarily for first responders and medical personnel in San Antonio. AP Photo

A robot, developed by a start-up firm Asimov Robotics, holds a tray with face masks and sanitiser after the two robots were launched to spread awareness about the coronavirus, in Kochi, India, March 17, 2020. Reuters

Across Europe, retailers have warned they are struggling to keep up with demand as shoppers panic buy amid fears of shortages in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities and supermarket owners have said repeatedly that as long as normal shopping continues supplies will last but the advice has not been widely heeded.

In the UK, retailers have warned supermarkets could face riots and civil disobedience in a matter of weeks if trends continue, according to the Daily Telegraph.

As a result, the government has been asked to think about drafting in the police or the military enforce law and order around shops.

The British supermarket group Morrisons cautioned on Wednesday it was facing "unprecedented challenges and uncertainty" dealing with the novel coronavirus, known as Covid-19.

The grocer, which it is limiting purchases across 1,250 lines, said that during the last two weeks, there has been considerable stocking up and sales pull-forward as customers plan for the impact of the outbreak.

The British retailer Sainsbury's revealed it would only allow customers to buy a maximum of three of any single item.

The UK’s Asda supermarkets also announced a restriction on shoppers to three items on all food. The outlet’s cafes and pizza counters have been closed, with a temporary reduction of the shop’s opening hours for all its 24-hour branches.

In Germany, shoppers have been asked to stock up with “prudence”, while in Italy, the country worst hit by the coronavirus outside China, authorities have urged shoppers to buy locally as the country’s food exports continue to be hit by the health crisis.

Updated: March 18, 2020 08:18 PM

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