Shoppers were met with empty shelves in supermarkets across Hong Kong on Tuesday as fears of a lockdown mount in the COVID-hit city.
At a Wellcome outlet in Sai Ying Pun, shelves once filled with meat and fresh produce were swept clean by panic buyers.
A resident in the neighborhood who visited the store around 1pm bemoaned there was close to nothing left.
She believed the panic buying was worsened by the closure of the Sai Ying Pun Market for one day for disinfection due to a number of COVID-19 cases.
On social media, a Facebook user shared photos of many shoppers waiting outside a Taste outlet, which is owned by ParknShop, before its opening.
The panic buying frenzy has also spread to online stores.
At around 2:30pm on Tuesday, there was a wait of about 14 minutes to enter ParknShop’s eShop.
But there were no time slots available for delivery in the coming 12 days for ParknShop’s eShop. Pickup services were also suspended until further notice.
The recent round of panic buying was sparked by Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan’s comments on Monday that the government was not ruling out a citywide lockdown to go along with a mandatory COVID-19 mass testing program — which will take place this month — and rumors that ParknShop, one of the city’s biggest supermarket chains, was closing all stores temporarily from next Monday.
Later in the day, Chief Executive Carrie Lam appealed to the public not to fall prey to rumors to avoid unnecessary fears being stirred. She also stressed that the supply of food and goods remained normal.
Meanwhile, ParknShop announced on its Facebook page on Tuesday that its stores will close earlier for the safety of its employees and customers in view of the severity of the pandemic.
Some of its ParknShop, Taste and Fusion outlets — including those in E-Max in Kowloon Bay, Celestial Heights in Ho Man Tin and Ocean Shores in Tseung Kwan O — will close at 3pm.