Namibia: Panic Buying As Virus Lockdown Looms

26 March 2020

Many Windhoek residents embarked on panic buying around the city yesterday, hours after government announced plans to place Windhoek, Rehoboth, Okahandja and the Erongo region under lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The 21-day lockdown will take effect from midnight 27 March until 16 April. However, some residents flocked to retailers as well as wholesalers in the capital to buy essential goods despite assurances from the authorities that shops offering essential services would remain open during the lockdown.

The lockdown was announced on Tuesday where government laid out some measures that would be implemented around the affected areas.

"I am buying in bulk to avoid coming back again," said Hauta Veii who was among hundreds of shoppers who flocked to buy essentials at the Metro wholesaler in Windhoek's Kleine Kuppe.

He said even though they do grocery shopping every month, it is a bit untimely in the case of budget and he is struggling to get some goods he was looking for as they are out of stock due to the panic buying by other customers.

A Metro manager, who asked not to be named, said the store had anticipated the panic buying but not to the extent witnessed yesterday.

"We were anticipating a large crowd but not to this extent," he said. Another employee at Metro said they had to refill shelves almost every 10 minutes to keep up with the demand of customers.

"The store is very busy and every 10 minutes we need to restock the shelves and also have stock on standby on the ground, just in case the stock runs out," he told New Era.

Windhoek resident Immanuel Nashinge said there was absolutely no need for people to panic buy, saying government has made it clear that it will set up special arrangements for retailers to receive their stock on a reciprocal basis and to enable the flow of supplies, goods, commodities, and services into Namibia.

"Why shop like a crazy person? We need to relax. We don't necessarily need that unnecessary panic. Simply get the essential stuff for home and other goods that will stay longer.

You can still come back to the shops. I don't think this is a panic time," Nashinge advised. "I found it a bit risky because of the essence of distance keeping. I want fellow shoppers to take precautions the way the government has laid them out."

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