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'We shouldn't stockpile': Ministers Harris and Humphreys warn against coronavirus panic-buying

The ministers were speaking today following the announcement about the closure of schools, colleges and cultural institutions from 6pm.

MINISTER FOR BUSINESS Heather Humphreys and Minister for Health Simon Harris have sent out a strong message today that people should not stockpile or panic-buy due to the coronavirus situation.

They were speaking at a press conference which took place after the Taoiseach announced the closure of colleges, schools, public facilities and cultural institutions from 6pm tonight. 

When asked about people stockpiling or ‘panic-buying’ in supermarkets, Minister Humphreys said that she has met with retailers and distributors, “and they have assured me that there is sufficient [power] in the supply chain”.

However, she warned:

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

“So I would say, there is no need to do that,” she said.

She said that a major distributor “said very clearly to me that there is sufficient supply in the system”.

She said that stockpiling certain goods such as toilet paper and pasta shouldn’t be necessary.

Minister Harris, meanwhile, said that he understood that “people in our country are worried and they want to make provisions for themselves, and perhaps vulnerable relatives”.

“We should all continue to buy what we need to provide for ourselves and families and loved ones [but] we shouldn’t stockpile,” he said.

He added that there can be “unintended consequences of taking something someone else could require”.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that supply chains are “strong” and that “the food industry and retail industry has given reassurance that they have supply chains that are robust and can continue to supply shops and shelves”.

He said that consumers should “realise their actions could contribute to the problem here as opposed to there being a fundamental problem in the supply chain, there isn’t [one].” 

Earlier this week, spoke to experts about the possibility of supply chain issues in Ireland. 

The increased activity should not be a cause for anxiety, according to Aidan Flynn, general manager of Freight Transport Association Ireland, who said there is no problem with the food supply chain.

Flynn said there are no barriers to transporting the kinds of products like tinned goods, pasta and hand soap that people are bulk buying and while supermarkets may sell-out of some products in a day, they will be able to very quickly restock their shelves.

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