Long queues and empty shelves have hit high street pharmacies, as members of the public ignored official advice and bought health supplies in bulk.
Boots has enforced a limit of two units per customer on various sterilising products, in response to the high volume of customers.
While waiting for the bus this morning I turn around to this. Queue for Boots Camden High Street. Also heard no pasta, rice in big Sainsburyâs this morning. Bus is empty; a few teachers,shop workers and med staff on board. #covid19UK #Camden pic.twitter.com/lpzvrHOCif— helen (@helendoyle00) March 13, 2020
Hand sanitiser has been in particularly high demand, though Boots said they have enough stock in warehouses, and soap still appears to be readily available in many stores.
Official guidance from the Government says there is no need to stockpile goods.
However, many customers were seen waiting in line for one outlet in Uxbridge, west London, to open on Friday morning.
8:57 Uxbridge - A queue of people waiting to get into Boots snakes through the shopping centre.— Dr. Chris Ince (@Chris_Ince) March 13, 2020
For some reason none of them thought to go to the Boots just outside, which opened at 8:30 and was totally empty. pic.twitter.com/b1XXUoIUMK
“For some reason none of them thought to go to the Boots just outside (the shopping centre), which opened at 8:30 and was totally empty,” tweeted @Chris_Ince, who shared a picture of the queue.
“We can confirm that we have seen an increase in sales of hand sanitisers, but we still have stock available in our warehouses for stores (with more stock arriving in stores each day),” Boots said in a statement.
It said there had also been a general increase in other cold and flu and pain relief items, but said there are still products available for customers to purchase.
The company continued: “To ensure we can support as many people as possible, there is currently a limit of two units per customer on baby sterilising and antibacterial products, hand sanitiser and hand wash, cough and cold and pain relief, children’s medicines, thermometers and tissues (including wipes).”
Boots in Northampton and Kettering sold out of all thermometers except the most expensive at Â£54.99. Sign says "max 2 in total" pic.twitter.com/DCtQJDws7b— Phoebe Radford (@PhoebeRad) March 12, 2020
Some shoppers were angered by the apparent “selfish” decisions of others to load up on pharmaceuticals.
Sharing a picture of shelves empty of ibuprofen, @CharlotteAlice8 tweeted: “Selfish idiots. This is Boots at Liverpool Street station.
“People need to get a grip.”
Selfish idiots. This is Boots at Liverpool Street station. People need to get a grip. pic.twitter.com/BsdUMUjeh1— Charlotte (@CharlotteAlice8) March 13, 2020
My local Superdrug at 9:01 this morning, people queuing to get hand gel and soap. This is getting ridiculous now.— 🥀bethan🥀 (@bethanvalo) March 13, 2020
STOP PANIC BUYING pic.twitter.com/XbAmi4hCCi
Another, @bethanvalo, posted: “My local Superdrug at 9:01 this morning, people queuing to get hand gel and soap. This is getting ridiculous now. STOP PANIC BUYING.”
Superdrug has not responded to the PA news agency for comment, but advice on its website says: “If you feel that you are experiencing symptoms of the Coronavirus or suspect that you have the infection, please do not attend our clinics for an appointment.”