Images worthy of a Hollywood film. Completely empty shelves, endless queues, customers in total incomprehension. The last 24 hours have not been easy for retailers. The fear of COVID-19 is indeed present.
P toiletries apier, hand soap, disinfectant wipes and even protective gloves, most grocery and drug stores have seen their stocks melt like snow in the sun since Prime Minister François Legault announced Thursday new measures to counter the pandemic .
“We sold the equivalent of a week in a day of toilet paper,” Sébastien Plante, manager of Brunet branches on Cartier Street and in Beauce, told Le Soleil.
“I’ve never seen it in my life, personally. We don’t have any hand sanitizer at all. It’s hard to get supplies. We are still being asked for masks, but it must have been more than a month since we have run out, ”he added.
Calm in panic
Despite this concern among the population, Mr. Plante did not observe any behavior by customers who were distraught by the stock shortages for certain products.
The same goes for Walmart branches, which have had to contend with continuous traffic since Thursday.
“It doesn’t stop for a moment. People keep coming in and out with big baskets full, “said David Desbiens, customer representative at Walmart in Laurier.
“We feel panic in people, but I would say that nobody is stacked on it to buy the products. People are respectful, even if they are looking for a lot of stuff. ”
Prepare for the worst
On leaving grocery stores and pharmacies, Le Soleil spoke with a few customers who prefer to prepare for the worst.
“I think it will be resolved, but you never know. We haven’t experienced pandemics often, so we prefer to buy as many things as possible, ”said Gilles Côté.
For other people like Isabelle Boulianne, the possibility of quarantine “in the whole country” is more than probable and people must react accordingly.
“The government can tell us that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, we can no longer leave our homes. Me, I have two children, and I prefer to buy the maximum of food if ever we have to stay at home ”, tells the mother of family leaving a Metro with a multitude of well-filled bags.
“It’s worrying! I would like to go and find my family, but I think the best solution is to stay at home. I took what was necessary for at least two weeks, ”says Mathieu Giroux, a student from Laval University.
But for people like Michael Larouche, this panic should not bring out the worst in the individual.
“Everyone thinks of themselves, and takes more than necessary in a burst of panic,” he says, while adding that he fears that this “overconsumption” of certain articles could be problematic for people in difficulty who do not will not have had time to get them.
On Friday, at a press conference, Prime Minister Legault wanted to reassure the population that there will be no food shortage, despite the heavy traffic.
Le Soleil has contacted several large retailers to find out if measures will be taken in the coming days to meet strong customer demand. No company wanted to give specifics, but announcements are expected shortly.
New measures at the SAQ
Faced with concern about COVID-19, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) has taken measures to reduce the risks to the health of its employees and customers.
Tastings are suspended until the end of the pandemic. The SAQ also announced new additional hygiene measures such as increased cleaning of branches, distribution of antiviral products and regular reminders of these new measures to employees.
For the moment, the SAQ does not anticipate any supply problems in its stores. And this, that Health Canada recalled that the export of products from countries affected by the Coronavirus is not likely to contribute to the spread of the virus.
All SAQ Inspire and SAQ Signature events have also been canceled.