Supermarket shelves stripped over lockdown rumours

Hongkongers rushed to supermarkets on Monday to stock up on food and essential items amid online rumours that one of the city’s two main supermarket chains, ParkNShop, would close all its outlets from March 7 and fears of an imminent citywide lockdown.

RTHK reporters saw long queues form at the check-outs of a supermarket in Fortress Hill, while a Kowloon Tong store was stripped of vegetables and frozen food.

ParkNShop later issued a statement dismissing the rumour, stressing that all its stores will continue operating as usual.

Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Monday that officials haven’t ruled out ordering people to stay at home during a territory-wide testing exercise next month.

One woman shopping at a supermarket in Admiralty said she rushed there to buy daily necessities after reading the news.

“I have two young kids at home, [so I’m buying] things like rice, detergent, everyday goods,” she said.

“They keep flip-flopping, but today’s news just says there may be a lockdown. I’m not really worried… if it really happens, I just want to be prepared.”

But another woman, surnamed Lau, said she was only buying what she usually does.

“I live on my own. So actually I’m not too worried about that. As long as I can get some kind of snacks, water to maintain my life. I think two weeks is okay for me,” she said.

“I think the government should release the announcement as soon as possible, so everyone can have sufficient time to go to the supermarket or the market to grab as much as they can,” Lau added.

Susie, a domestic helper, said her employer had told her to buy enough food for about two weeks.

“We’re getting ready. Maybe there’ll be a lockdown. I don’t know,” she said, adding that the family had started preparing for a lockdown weeks ago.

Tim, also a shopper, said he was not too worried, but he had done a bit of panic-buying a couple of weeks ago.

Asked what he would buy in the event of a lockdown, he said: “Alcohol and ice-cream in a crisis.”