Shoppers warned against stockpiling over coronavirus fears

The Irish Government has warned shoppers against panic buying and stockpiling food and medical supplies over coronavirus fears.

In a strong message, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said stockpiling products will cause further problems and she urged the public to remain calm.

In an attempt to allay the public’s fears, Ms Humphreys said retailers and supermarkets have assured her there is a sufficient supply chain.

The Taoiseach’s announcement that colleges, schools and other public facilities will close for two weeks from Thursday evening prompted huge queues at supermarkets across the country.

Throngs of crowds at major retailers sparked the closure of a number of stores.

Ms Humphreys said: “I met with retailers and I met with distributors, and they have assured me that there is a sufficient supply chain.

“If people go out and buy products that they don’t need to stockpile they’re going to cause a problem.

“I can say there is no need to do that, there is quite a sufficient amount in the supply chain.

“If people are stockpiling products that they are not going to use, that is going to cause a problem and we know that.

“Only this week and as late as yesterday evening I met one of the major distributors and they said very clearly to me that there is sufficient supply in the system.”

The minister also said imposing limits on the purchase of certain goods “is not something I think will be necessary”.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “People in our country are worried and they want to make provisions for themselves and for their families.

“We should all continue to buy what we need to provide for ourselves, families and loved ones. But we should not stockpile because that could have the unintended consequences of taking something that someone else may require.

“We’re better than that.”

Ms Humphreys added: “This is going to have a major impact on businesses, on our economy and our overriding concern has to be to protect people’s health and that takes precedence over everything as economies recover.

“Public health is the priority here and these are not decisions that are being made lightly.

“They are unprecedented but they are necessary, and of course our health is our wealth, that is an old saying that has never been more relevant today.”