WA’s supermarket shelves are emptying out as stores across the country suffer major stock supply shortages with more than a third of workers over east reportedly off sick or in isolation.
As COVID-19 case numbers continue to explode in the Eastern States, shelves in WA grocery stores are again appearing to be stripped bare — but not as a result of panic buying.
Major retailers including Coles and Woolworths are reportedly experiencing staff shortages of up to 35 per cent at their distribution centres due to isolation requirements.
From suppliers to truck drivers and staff at distribution centres, the ongoing health crisis is affecting workers across the board, causing major logistical issues and disruption.
Photographs from Perth’s major supermarkets show dwindling stocks of meat, cat food, toilet paper and long-life milk among other items.
Meanwhile, frozen goods are also running out in some metropolitan and regional stores.
A transport company Perth depot manager told The West Australian only two out of the usual six trucks transporting retail goods were expected to arrive in WA on Monday due to staff shortages.
“The company I work for have 17 of 36 people off work in isolation in Melbourne right now,” he said.
The depot manager, who did not want to be identified, said he was anxious about WA suffering the same fate as the Eastern States after the hard border opening.
“I’m worried about my operation here,” he said.
“It’s obviously much smaller than Melbourne or Sydney but we will be screwed if a handful of people go down here.”
Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci last week said it was not yet clear how soon the system would come back into balance as we move through the Omicron wave.
“It’s clear that we are entering a very different phase of COVID, not least because of the high levels of community transmission associated with Omicron,” he said in a statement to customers.
“To give you a sense of the magnitude of the challenge, we are experiencing Covid-driven absences of 20%+ in our distribution centres and 10%+ in our stores.”
Some Coles stores had also been forced to introduce limits on several meat items including chicken, mince and sausages.
It comes as Australians have been urged to stock up on painkillers, with many likely to be struck down with COVID-19 in “coming days”.
Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd issued the warning on Sunday and advised the public to ensure they had paracetamol or ibuprofen at home just in case they tested positive for the virus.
“With the rising case numbers we’ve seen over the past week in many parts of the country, it’s likely that many of us will test positive for COVID-19 over the coming days and weeks if we haven’t already done so,” he said.
“It’s important to be prepared because you won’t be able to go to your supermarket or pharmacy if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.”