Lebanon’s general public rushed to supermarkets Wednesday, March 11th, afternoon amid rumors that they will be asked to shut down as part of measures against the spread of the Coronavirus.
According to several witnesses, the shelves of some supermarkets in Beirut and the surrounding suburbs were completely cleared that day by panicked customers stocking up for the alleged projected closures across the country.
The customers came in large numbers, shortly before the press conference of Prime Minister Hassan Diab during which he reinforced that preventive measures are being undertaken and will be strengthened.
People were seen attempting to fill two, even three shopping carts of groceries. As buyers jostled on the shelves, queues formed in supermarket parking lots.
Some customers even had to turn back, according to multiple witnesses and disappointed shoppers.
In several major Beirut supermarkets, meat and chicken stalls were emptied. Pasta, rice, oil, toilet paper and/or disinfectants were running out in some departments.
Several supermarkets nevertheless replenished as the evening went on. Neighborhood supermarkets were also taken by storm.
“It’s madness, it looks like it’s the end of the world!” A customer who was shopping around 5:00 p.m. in a supermarket in Ashrafieh told L’Orient le Jour. “Even in wartime, I have not seen that,” she added, disillusioned.