Coles and Woolworths crack down on empty supermarket shelves

Supermarket giants have reintroduced product buying restrictions following a resurgence in panic buying across stores in Melbourne, ramping up safety measures across Victorian distribution centres. Woolworths doubled its online capacity and Coles repurposed a supermarket in Coburg as a pop-up fulfilment centre.

Following Victoria’s re-introduction to stage three COVID-19 restrictions, Coles and Woolworths have reinstated purchase limits to store customers across the state.

The restrictions will only be applied to affected regions in Victoria and there will be two item per limit on essential items with just one packet of toilet paper per customer.

“Coles is implementing temporary purchase limits for some staple items following the Victorian Government’s announcement of a return to Stage Three “Stay at Home” restrictions for people living in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire,” the supermarket said online.

From Wednesday 8 July 2020, Woolworths reinstated a purchase limit of two items per customer across 27 product categories in Victoria both in-store and online.

“We have more than enough stock flowing from our distribution centres into stores to support all our customers’ food and grocery needs. We encourage our customers to continue shopping as they usually would,” Woolworths said in a statement.

Before Dan Andrews announced further lockdown restrictions, Woolworths offered thousands more weekly online orders with dozens of new trucks recently joining its fleet of more than 300 Victorian vehicles and hundreds of couriers from on-demand delivery partners Sherpa and Drive Yello ready to fulfill orders.

“Woolworths’ Priority Assistance service offers dedicated online delivery and Pick up windows to the elderly, people with a disability, those with compromised immunity and people in mandatory self-isolation. More than 330,000 orders have been made to vulnerable customers in Victoria through the program.” Woolworths said in a statement.

Victorian customers took to social media to capture queues outside supermarkets that began almost immediately following  Premier Dan Andrews’ announcement that stay-at-home measures would be enforced for metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire on Wednesday afternoon.

Safety measures heightened as Coles worker tests positive for COVID-19

“A team member at Coles’ Belmont VIC supermarket is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19,” a Coles statement noted on Thursday July 9.

“Coles worked with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to conduct contact tracing, which found the team member had not been in close contact with any other team members”.

As an added precaution, Coles has conducted an additional deep clean of the store.

“The Victorian Department of Health has confirmed the store can continue to trade and the risk of transmission for customers and team members is very low,” Coles said in a statement.

All Coles distribution centres including the Laverton site already have thermal imaging cameras and hand-held contactless thermometers to check the temperature of all team members and transport providers prior to entering the facility.

Coles already has sanitiser stations at all entrances and exits and throughout the facility, and machinery operated by team members is sanitised between uses.

This follows two workers at Coles DC in Laverton testing positive to the coronavirus last month.

“While team members at the distribution centre generally do not work in close proximity due to the size of the site and the nature of their roles, Coles has also reinforced the need for social distancing with visible guidelines throughout the facility,” Coles said in a statement last month.

Woolworths said in a statement that in addition to the long standing social distancing and safety measures already in place across Victoria, Woolworths now has nurses in place across its hotspot stores, Victorian distribution centres and customer online fulfilment centre for its team members.

“Compulsory temperature checks are also taking place for all team members at these sites,” the Group stated.

Supermarkets deploy workers to supply for public housing towers in Melbourne

With over 3000 residents in multiple public housing towers in Melbourne in lockdown, Coles and Woolworths have partnered with their respective charities and taken measures to redeploy team members  to provide public housing residents in Melbourne with products, freshly cooked meals and essential food deliveries.

Woolworths In Victoria have been pulling together over 4,500 bags of food filled with pantry staples such as pasta, sauce, oats and biscuits for residents as well as fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and yoghurts.

Woolworths has redeployed 40 team members to its store at The District Docklands to be specifically dedicated to helping pack and provide supplies for those in the lockdown public housing towers.

Coles repurposed its supermarket in Waterfield Street Coburg as a pop-up fulfilment centre, packing 1000 boxes with donations of fresh foods including a selection of fresh produce, bread, dairy products including milk and fresh meat, poultry and meat substitutes.

“These will be added to 1000 boxes packed with long-life groceries including cereal, pasta, tinned food, biscuits and toilet paper already on their way to distribution points,” Coles said in a statement on July 6.

“It’s been a huge effort by all involved to help the community – not just the store team but the supply chain and our suppliers,” Coles Chief Operations Officer Matt Swindells said.

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