An elderly woman was left in tears as she surveyed the empty shelves of an Australian supermarket this week — as people stockpiled supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, a heartbreaking photo shows.
The photo, posted by 9 News Australia reporter Seb Costello and taken at a Coles store in the upscale coastal suburb of Port Melbourne Thursday, quickly became a sobering symbol of the consequences of panic-buying happening at supermarkets worldwide.
The canned food aisle was virtually bare as the woman stood with her rolling cart, looking down.
“I’m told she was in tears,” Costello wrote. “This captures who is suffering from the me-first, unnecessary, trend of panic buying.”
The photo has since been liked 1,500 times and retweeted by 719 people.
Many shared it with the now-popular hashtag #StopHoarding.
Australian supermarkets have implemented dedicated shopping hours at the start of the day for the elderly — among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 — to purchase their necessities, according to the Evening Standard. But some say that is still not enough.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged people to stop panic-buying amid the pandemic, calling the behavior “unAustralian.”
“On bulk purchasing of supplies: Stop hoarding. I can’t be more blunt about it,” he said, according to the report. “Stop it. It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behavior in response to this crisis.”
Australia has seen a series of brawls breaking out among panicked buyers — particularly those terrified of running out of toilet paper. In one case, police even tased a man fighting for paper.