Competition has been fierce for toilet paper in Queanbeyan over the past few days. It's even pushed some locals to petty crime. One Facebook user was horrified to see a man steal from an elderly woman.
"Our hero observed an elderly woman, who said she was 90, walking across the pedestrian crossing between Riverside and Kmart," Michelle St Claire wrote on the Queanbeyan Community Notice Board. "Within seconds, our hero leapt into action, and stole the toilet paper she just purchased from the pouch in her walker, and ran off." Fortunately the episode ended happily. "The lady went back into Riverside to another shop, and they gave her the packet they were keeping for the staff toilet ... Legends!"
Some residents are struggling to find household basics. Supermarket shelves across town have been emptied of toilet paper, while tissues and hand sanitisers, meat and bread, pasta, rice, flour, frozen vegetables, and tinned tomatoes are in short supply. "The last week has been crazy in supermarkets, absolutely crazy," SUPA IGA manager Paul Purcell said. "We need to calm down a bit - get a little bit of everything, and let everyone else get a bit. The panic people are in makes it difficult for those who actually need the products. A lot of people are stockpiling things they don't need to." Mr Purcell urged shoppers to think about their neighbours, particularly the elderly. "They are the people who will be most affected by the virus," Mr Purcell said. "It would be really good if we could make sure they got a chance at the supermarkets before everyone."
Woolworths announced that from Tuesday it would open all its stores across Australia an hour early, exclusively for the elderly and disabled. From Thursday, the supermarket will also offer care packages containing essential items.
Meals on Wheels will soon donate toilet rolls with each meal once they receive supplies, Helen Debritt said. They also offer a transport service and shopping assistance for clients. The organisation has also reinforced handwashing when volunteers visit clients and prepare meals.
For many in town, though, it's business as usual. The education department will keep schools open (no doubt disappointing a few kids) and QPAC has reassured the public that, at this stage, all its shows will go ahead as scheduled.
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