Police to patrol the toilet paper aisle
Police have entered the supermarket wars in an unprecedented initiative to quell the panic, calm tempers and protect staff amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Australians to stop hoarding, The Daily Telegraph can reveal police will be on high-visibility duty in shopping aisles and in retail centres after discussions with bosses of Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and some of the bigger Coles Express outlets on Wednesday.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Jeff Loy said the community should not feel uneasy about going about their daily lives and bad behaviour would not be tolerated.
"Despite these unprecedented circumstances, we are working hard to maintain a sense of normality for the wider community," Mr Loy said.
With two women charged over an alleged toilet paper brawl at Chullora, and other angry scenes amid panic buying, the police organised the telephone hook-up with retail bosses on Wednesday morning and they will continue to work together.
A man was being sought on Wednesday after attacking two women with his shopping trolley and punching a female store attendant in the face in a Lismore supermarket because he could not find the items he wanted.
The retailers told police they were concerned for the safety of their employees as shoppers had turned violent.
"Police are making a concerted effort to ensure the security of shoppers and retail staff across the state amid concerns of 'panic buying' due to COVID-19," Mr Loy said.
"As the response to COVID-19 continues, members of the public should feel reassured that the NSWPF will maintain our focus on proactive policing as we increase our presence in and around shopping centres and retail outlets.
"Officers will be actively engaging with retailers and customers statewide not only as a safeguard measure, but also so members of the public don't feel uneasy going about their daily lives."
With supermarket shelves and fridges empty and stories of Sydneysiders taking minibuses and trailers to fill up from country stores, Mr Morrison urged people to stop hoarding.
"It's not sensible, it's not helpful," he said. "That is not who we are as a people.
"It is distracting attention and efforts that need to be going into other measures.
"There is no reason for people to be hoarding supplies in fear of a lockdown," Mr Morrison said.