PETALING JAYA: Despite the government’s reassurance that essential items will be available during the two-week lockdown from June 1-14, Malaysians nationwide started stocking up on supplies as early as 8am.
Photos of long queues – some snaking up to a few hundred metres – have been circulating on social media.
Pictures show people flocking to supermarkets to buy groceries, even though stores selling essentials will remain open throughout the lockdown.
In the Klang Valley, business owner Natasha Shazana Azmi, 27, who went grocery shopping on Saturday (May 29) morning, said that based on the previous movement control order experience, it was harder to shop during a lockdown.
“I don’t think the situation is unusual because this is the weekend, when people usually do their shopping.
“We can’t be angry with people for panic buying now because during the first MCO, we saw how difficult it was to shop because a lot of items were out of stock and shelves were bare.
“Lockdown or no lockdown, the queue will still be long because we have so many restrictions in place. So better to do it now when I can get what I need,” she said.
Marketing executive Justin Lim, 32, said he decided to go shopping for his family of six as he did not want to face the possibility of not getting items such as bread.
“Although we are encouraged to shop online, it’s not easy because delivery takes many weeks and we can’t choose fresh items.
“I’ve tried ordering online during the first lockdown and it was really slow.
“It’s better to shop today while things are still available,” he said.
In Penang, a local supermarket had a long queue outside the entrance stretching for 200m.
The usually-quiet supermarket in Ayer Itam had a large crowd gathered by 10am.
B. Prema, who was there to buy rice, decided to leave as she did not want to be in a crowded area.
“I need to get rice as I am down to my last bag but this is not worth it,” she said.
At the wet market on Perak Road, a larger-than-usual crowd was spotted buying essentials and raw ingredients.
Marketgoers made a beeline for the entrance while some traders believed the crowd could be due to concerns over the lockdown.
“The crowd today is more than normal weekends and some customers are buying a lot more,” said a vegetable seller who declined to be named.
He said while traders were enjoying brisk business, there were concerns about the increase in shoppers which could lead to authorities ordering the market to close.
Meanwhile in Perak, a long queue formed outside an Ipoh Garden hypermarket as people here try to get necessities before the nationwide lockdown comes into effect.
A check showed that between 20 and 30 people were waiting outside the premises at about 11.30am, with some people waiting in the queue for 30 to 45 minutes
The hypermarket, which opens from 8am to 8pm as set by the standard operating procedures, only allows up to 250 customers into its premises at a time.
A notice put up near its entrance also stated that only one member of a family is allowed to go in.
This follows the announcement by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday (May 28) that a total lockdown nationwide will be in effect from June 1 to 14.
Meanwhile, at a supermarket nearby, people were required to update their profile in the MySejahtera app to show their status as “low risk” before being allowed entry.
A relatively shorter queue had formed near the market area, as it is only limited to 150 people at any one time.