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Panic Buyers Turn To Stockpiling Grog During Coronavirus Pandemic

Bottle shops will not shut under new restrictions, but that didn't stop Australians from swarming liquor stores to stock up in the latest episode of panic buying brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday Australia would undergo stage one of a lockdown, meaning non-essential services would be shut for at least 48 hours.

As part of this partial lockdown, bottle shops, supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, and convenience stores -- all considered essential -- will remain open.

But confusion had already mounted about what constituted as 'non-essential', with shoppers flocking to bottle shops to hoard alcohol over fears stores would soon close.

Carlton & United Breweries issued a statement on Sunday warning of the loss of thousands of jobs in the brewing industry, as well as there being "no beer" available in Australia for at least three months if it was not given exempt status.

"In these incredibly uncertain times people need some normality in their lives. They need to be able to access beer and other liquor at bottle shops," said CUB vice-president of corporate affairs Julian Sheezel.

"You can’t turn major breweries off and then quickly turn them back on. After re-opening, there could be three months of no beer for pubs and bottle shops."

Dan Murphy's started trending on Twitter, as dozens of concerned Aussies took to social media to ask: 'are bottle shops considered essential'?

Photos then followed of car parks swamped with panic buyers, and shoppers donning masks loading up their trolleys with beverages. While others opted for home deliveries, ordering several slabs of beer and bottles of wine.

Many compared the bottle shop rush to the chaotic scenes of toilet paper stockpiling.

"Can report there is now panic buying at Dan Murphy's. Every car space in our local branch is full, everyone is loading up. We're going to be one trashed socially isolated nation for a while," one person wrote on Twitter.

"Only in Mosman. Just went up to the local Dan Murphy’s to get a bottle of Tonic for a much needed G&T. Found a security guard and long line of locals trying to stock up before non-essential closures. Forget the toilet paper," another person added.

Another shopper complained they'd waited in a 30-minute queue while people filled their trolleys with up to seven bottles of wine.

As stockpiling takes hold over Australians, Morrison urged people not to panic-buy groceries and other goods.

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Coronavirus Stockpiling Is 'Un-Australian' And Could Hurt The Poor, Expert Warns

Filling your pantries with food over coronavirus fears is not just unnecessary but completely "un-Australian" and could leave vulnerable Aussies going without, an expert told 10 daily.

"There are no issues with Australia's food supply. What there is an issue with is the behaviour of Australians at supermarkets," he said.

"I understand they're anxious... but for the next six months at least we need to work through this together."

Pubs, cinemas and churches will be forced to close across Australia from noon on Monday to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The closure of more types of businesses could follow if Australians continue to fail to heed health warnings.

Morrison said the decision was taken because Australians were not adequately sticking to rules around social distancing.

Virus cases are doubling every three days and the death toll remains at seven.

"We cannot have the confidence as a group of leaders that the social distancing guidelines and rules that we have put in place won't be followed to the level of compliance that we require to flatten the curve and slow the spread and save lives," Morrison said.

With AAP

Do you have a story tip? Contact Eden at egillespie@networkten.com.au