SOLD OUT: Business owner Lisa Hansford was selling stacks of toilet paper supplies as stocks become increasingly scarce in Warwick
SOLD OUT: Business owner Lisa Hansford was selling stacks of toilet paper supplies as stocks become increasingly scarce in Warwick

Coronavirus panic leaves rural residents vulnerable

LIVING more than two hours away from her closest supermarket, Rebecca Finch is no stranger to stockpiling necessities, but still didn't think she would need to worry about the fallout of coronavirus panic shopping.

It was only when she faced aisle upon aisle void of toilet paper, milk, sanitiser and non-perishable goods during her fortnightly trip to the Goondiwindi Coles store that she realised the hysteria had found its way to her backyard.

Coupled with new toilet roll restrictions from Coles, Woolworths and Aldi, Miss Finch is just one of many who believe widespread panic is putting rural residents at risk.

"It makes it really hard when you're this far out and you would usually pick up three to four toilet paper packets and now we're being told we can't take it because of a retail customer limit," she said.

"We had staff say to us 'we know you're not stockpiling but if we do if for you then we have to do it for everyone else.

"It also makes it harder to budget when what would usually be a $300 shop now turns out to be $500-600."

Miss Finch, who had pneumonia four times in the past, said her body had been left compromised and couldn't afford the risk of contracting of coronavirus, but had been left with little option amid rumours residents were selling sanitary products overseas.

'We had the pharmacist ask to see ID to show that we lived here," she said.

"My body cannot take anymore.

"People are selling overseas but what about us?"

Friendly Society pharmacist Ahmad Almesfer said while the Warwick pharmacy had sold out of toilet paper, many over-the-counter analgesics were still in good supply.

"I have heard of Panadol being affected," Mr Almesfer said.

"In terms of us, we've had the odd request asking for four packets or so but no one's really over-purchasing.

"That's a good thing I guess, because we're aware of the stock and are ordering a bit more just in case."

Mr Almesfer also said it was unlikely rural customers would be put at a disadvantage to metro residents and discouraged residents from asking pharmacists to over-dispense.

"We have pretty much have the same turnaround as metro areas, we will get things the next day where metro might get same-day delivery," he said.

For some local businesses, the panic had led to an unparalleled­ boom as shoppers turned to unconventional outlets in their time of need.

Big W, Silly Sollys, Choice, Bunnings and Scoop have all reported they sold out of the bathroom item.

The Scoop Organic and Wholefoods owner Lisa Hansford posted about the eco-friendly toilet rolls, W ho Gives A Crap, as a joke initially, not expecting she would sell 94 rolls in a day.

"Mine are expensive, they're $1.80 a roll, and one lady bought 37 rolls," she said.

"I was just blown away by the fact it's really true.

"I do worry about the elderly who might only get out once a fortnight and might miss out."

Similarly, Kelly Thompson of Cleaning and Catering Products Warwick had a 80-100 per cent increase in sales last week.

"I've sold a couple pallet loads of toilet paper and nearly 60 litres of hand gel," she said.

"Its walked out the door and people are still asking for it.

"They think rural towns might not get the supply as quick and early as in the city."

The panic comes as Australia's coronavirus death toll reaches three.