Businesses around Cobram feeling effects of coronavirus

By Ed McLeish

Cobram’s supermarket, butcher and pharmacy stocks are being stripped to their bare bones, as hoarders are stockpiling and panic-buying due to the coronavirus outbreak.

From dwindling supplies of toilet paper and tissues, to meat, to asthma puffers – Cobram’s stores were emptying out last week - prompting businesses to take their own restrictive actions.

Ritchie’s Super IGA manager Mandy Hawke said her warehouse staff could not get stock out quickly enough.

“They are two to three days behind, but they’re all trying their best to get stock out,” she said.

“Everyone is exhausted.”

Ms Hawke said like other supermarkets, the store was prioritising its sales in the opening hour (7 am) for the elderly and disabled, but the general public were still allowed in.

She said Cobram’s locals had been “fantastic” in their conduct, and her warehouse staff were gradually getting on top of customer demand.

“They’re not really getting sucked into the drama we see elsewhere in the country,” Ms Hawke said.

“There’s a lack of toilet paper, paper towels, flour, rice, pasta and frozen veggies, but it’s all starting to get back on track.

‘Victorian stores were ordering four times as much as usual.”

Supreme Meats owner Malcolm Lean said business over the past two weeks was “chaos”.

“It’s been like Christmas Eve every day the past week consecutively, bar Friday and Saturday,” he said.

“You couldn’t predict it.”

Ambience Bakery – a business that partially relies on meat for its goods – has run out of lamb on occasions last week.

Owner David Bate said his bakery, unlike cafes, had an essential business exemption, which meant Ambience did not have to temporarily close and could conduct takeaway food and coffee orders from Tuesday.

Mr Bate said people weren’t taking social distancing measures seriously and the bakery was bracing for tough times, with around a dozen casual staffers to lose work temporarily.

“People need to take it more seriously, we’re trying to get customers to stay outside and wait for coffees,” he said.

“We’re expecting the shutdown to hit us hard, which impacts our casual staff - the casuals will miss out.

“I’m quite sad to say I won’t see you for god knows how long; our part-timers on the low side of hours, but full-timers will still get their 38 hours.”

And ventolin among other drug supplies at Discount Drug Stores are running low; manager Ravi Maharaj said it was his intention to limit puffer sales to one a person.

“Since last week, it’s been a little bit quieter – the initial hype of people stocking up here has died down,” he said on Monday.

“Some medication has gone out of stock, but people are very patient and understanding about what’s happening on the supply chain, people are good to deal with and they understand.”