Shoppers disregard advice as supermarkets see customer numbers 'double'
Spain's consumption minister warns of "collective hysteria," while Catalan authorities insist supply of basic products is guaranteed
As more government measures aimed at combating coronavirus came into force on Friday, supermarkets around Catalonia were busier than usual, with longer queues and more empty shelves than would normally be seen on any other Friday morning.
However the day before, Spain's consumption minister, Alberto Garzón, made a call for "calm," describing scenes of people shopping en masse witnessed in some supermarkets in the past few days as "collective hysteria."
"There is enough supply and so there is no need to go shopping as if for a prolonged period," Garzón told the press, adding that the fears of shops in Spain running out of basic goods, such as food, is "unfounded."
Basic everyday products guaranteed
Equally, on announcing that Catalonia had moved to its 'emergency 1 phase' for the first time ever, the Catalan authorities insisted that supplies of basic everyday goods to all residents would be guaranteed.
"There is enough supply and so there is no need to go shopping as if for a prolonged period"
Alberto Garzón · Spanish consumption minister
However, that advice was not necessarily heeded by many people, especially those living in the Igualada area of central Catalonia, which on Friday saw four local towns sealed off by police on account of the higher number of coronavirus cases there.
Local press in the area reported that supermarkets had seen double the number of people shopping compared with a normal day. "I've worked here for a few months and I've never seen anything like it," the Regió 7 newspaper quoted one supermarket employee.
It seems that most shoppers have been targeting basic products, such as potatoes, chicken, water, and milk, while supermarket workers have been hard pushed to restock the shelves for toilet paper and antiseptic gel quick enough.