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Singaporeans rush to supermarkets after Malaysia announces lockdown, but no widespread excessive buying

SINGAPORE — Soon after the Malaysian government announced a nationwide lockdown, Singaporeans were seen rushing to the supermarkets late on Monday (March 16) night, reminiscent of scenes on Feb 7 after Singapore raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition alert level to Orange.

Singaporeans rush to supermarkets after Malaysia announces lockdown, but no widespread excessive buying

Unlike the panic-buying seen last month, when people were observed loading trolleys with items like toilet paper and food items, Monday night’s shoppers appear to be buying in relatively smaller quantities.

SINGAPORE — Soon after the Malaysian government announced a nationwide lockdown, Singaporeans were seen rushing to the supermarkets late on Monday (March 16) night, reminiscent of scenes on Feb 7 after Singapore raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition alert level to Orange.

But unlike the panic-buying seen last month, when people were observed loading trolleys with items such as toilet paper and food items, Monday night’s shoppers appear to be buying in relatively smaller quantities.

On Monday evening, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that his country will bar its citizens from leaving the country and foreigners from entering.

The lockdown will take effect for two weeks from March 18, with all businesses shut except shops selling food and daily necessities.

At 11.30pm, the queue at local supermarket NTUC FairPrice along Yishun Ring Road stretched beyond the entrance, with easily over 50 people. More people were inside stocking up on food items such as eggs and meat, as well as daily essentials such as toilet rolls.

Even as the clock hit midnight, more residents continued to join the queue.

Hudson Tang, a 15-year-old student who was there with his mother, walked out of NTUC FairPrice at Yishun Ring Road with several bags of food such as cereal and eggs, as well as toilet paper.

He said that he and his mother had waited in the queue for 45 minutes since 11pm after his mother received a WhatsApp message informing her to stock up on essentials.

"I wasn't expecting to see a queue actually but I guess if you see others panic, you will panic as well," said Hudson.

At NTUC FairPrice on Havelock Road, a staff member said the crowds started building up after 11pm.

When TODAY visited the supermarket, about 50 shoppers can be seen in snaking queues winding through the whole supermarket, from one end to another.

Once again, toilet paper was disappearing fast from shelves.

A retiree who gave his name as only Mr Tan said he heard the news that Malaysia was going into a lockdown, and was worried since many food items are from Malaysia.

“We just want to be ready for the first few days. Then I think after that the Government will probably find a way to solve the problem,” he said.

Ms Alice Wong, a 66-year-old housewife, said she initially planned to buy groceries on Tuesday morning.

“After I saw the news about Malaysia’s lockdown, then I thought if I don’t buy tonight, I might not be able to buy tomorrow,” she said.

She bought dried goods, rice and oil.

Long queues were also seen at Giant supermarkets at Toa Payoh Central and Marine Terrace, NTUC Finest at Bukit Timah Plaza and Sheng Siong in Punggol, among others.

Eggs, instant noodles, bread, fruit, rice and toilet paper were the commonly bought items.

After the first wave of panic-buying, which saw photos of long queues and empty shelves at supermarkets circulating on social media, the Government called for calm as it assured Singaporeans that there was an ample supply of essentials.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, Group CEO of FairPrice Group, said that the sudden surge in demand for groceries and personal hygiene products resulted in stores temporarily running short of stock in some instances.

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Covid-19 coronavirus Wuhan virus panic buying lockdown

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