Long queues return as panic buying makes a comeback ahead of new lockdown

Huge queues formed outside supermarkets and shelves were stripped of toilet roll after Boris Johnson announced England would be plunged into a second national lockdown.

Snaking queues and bulging trolleys were seen at shops around the country on Sunday and Monday as panic buyers rushed to stock up on supplies.

In scenes mirroring the first wave of the pandemic, pictures on social media show depleted toilet roll aisles with customers complaining staple items like pasta were also running out.

The winter lockdown comes into force on Thursday and will last until December 2, though ministers have suggested it could be extended if the virus remains out of control.

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Many Brits chose to spend their final weekend of freedom stocking up on supplies at Costco, with pictures showing huge queues outside warehouses in Leeds, Watford, Birmingham and Southampton.

People were also seen stocking up on essentials at major supermarkets including Aldi, Asda and Sainsbury’s.

Ikea in Batley, West Yorkshire, was also busy with pictures showing a socially distanced queue of dozens of people snaking around the car park.

The Silverlink Retail Park in North Shields was also rammed today ahead of non-essential shops closing.

Under the second lockdown, all non-essential businesses such as retail stores, pubs and restaurants will have to close and people will only be allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons, such as exercise or to do a food shop.

The restrictions are largely the same as those imposed in March, though schools and universities will stay open.

Retailers have urged shoppers to exercise restraint, insisting there is no need to bulk-buy.

But near empty toilet roll shelves were seen at a number of stores this morning in signs panic buying may continue.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told Metro.co.uk they had ‘good availability’ and there are no current restrictions in place.

A Tesco spokesperson said: ‘We have good availability in stores and online, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.’

Tesco introduced rations on essential items towards the end of September amid fears Britons will begin stockpiling to cope with the second wave of the pandemic.

They followed in the footsteps of Morrisons, which became the first chain to reintroduce the three items per person limit on some essential products.

Most stores were forced to ration items at the start of the pandemic, when stockpilling caused shortages of pasta, rice, milk and hand sanitiser, despite supermarkets repeatedly insisting there was enough stock to go around.

The crisis also triggered an international shortage of loo roll, with many shoppers worried about being caught short as countries across the globe went into lockdown.

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