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Panic buying appears to have been sparked ahead of local lockdowns in England – with huge queues forming outside a branch of IKEA hours before new coronavirus protection restrictions are due to come in to force.
The surprising scenes were witnessed in Warrington on Sunday – while tougher coronavirus restrictions are expected to hit the region this week.
Shoppers were reportedly queuing up for up to 30 minutes just to get inside the furniture store after barriers were lined up outside the entrance to guide shoppers in.
Staff monitored the members of the public to ensure social distancing was followed while they prepared to enter the expansive store.
Images from Liverpool Echo of the furniture and lifestyle store were reminiscent of scenes uncovered back in June when lockdown restrictions first began to ease.
Non-essential stores were allowed to restart trading four months ago – prompting a flood of shoppers looking to take advantage of the renewed freedom to browse and buy.
This weekend is believed to be the last in the UK before the government introduces a three-tier lockdown response system to tackle localised outbreaks of coronavirus.
Under the toughest tier, which would be implemented if significantly higher rates of coronavirus flared in one area compared with the rest of the country, would see a crackdown on non-essential businesses – which would be forced to close.
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Households would be banned from mixing, pubs and restaurants would be forced to close – but schools and workplaces would remain open.
Liverpool and the surrounding area are tipped to be plunged into such measures this week following an increase in positive Covid-19 test results.
Queues were also reported outside supermarkets over the weekend – with Sainsbury’s Great Homer Street store asking customers to shop alone where possible.
Retailers have urged customers not to panic-buy as rumours grow of local lockdowns, with shops hoping to avoid scenes of shelves being stripped bare of stock as happened in March.
Meanwhile, parts of the North of England are hoping severe lockdown measures will not be introduced after restrictions implemented earlier this month appeared to show they were working after being introduced as virus infection rates soar.
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