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Campbell River gas stations see long line ups, grocery shelves deserted

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The lines are long and the shelves are deserted. ‘Panic buying’ first came to light at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, it’s back.

Across Vancouver Island, locals are taking to social media, posting photos of bare grocery shelves and delays at gas stations, in cities like Nanaimo and Courtenay.

In Campbell River, for example, the meat section at Walmart was ravaged and left empty sometime yesterday (Nov. 17).

And just this morning, a local gas station manager says her staff is coming off an extra ‘busy’ day.

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“The girls handle it really well. We’re still pumping a little bit of gas, but we had to take our premium gas and put it down to our regular gas price,” says Cathy Tipton of Quinsam Shell.

“We’ll probably be out before the truck gets up here this afternoon.”

Following Monday’s extreme weather, one island gas retailer found it was challenged with obtaining stable fuel supply.

In a statement posted to its website, Peninsula Co-op said it was working to mitigate the outages, but noted it could actually take days to stabilize. 

“We apologize for any inconvenience,” it said.

But the panic comes just as the Province of B.C. declares a state of emergency.

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Upon its announcement yesterday, both Premier John Horgan and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth took aim at hoarders.

“With respect to the hoarding again, I’m saying, people, do the right thing. Listen to what your mom told you when you were little: do unto others as you would have done unto you. Respect the fact that you do not need 48 eggs, a dozen will do,” said Horgan.

“That is one of the areas under the state of emergency where emergency could be used for example in terms of dealing with not just hoarding but gouging,” said Farnworth.

The Retail Council of Canada (RRC) said empty shelves at some B.C. supermarkets should only be temporary in the wake of flooding that has closed highways.

In a Wednesday Facebook post, the RCC echoed Horgan and Farnworth, urging shoppers “to avoid a repeat of the panic buying of some supplies that was seen during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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