File photo.

Don’t put unnecessary pressure on grocery supplies amidst COVID-19: Mayor Gerry Thiessen

Vanderhoof mayor in self-isolation since he returned from a family trip to the Dominican Republic.

Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen is self-isolating and practicing social distancing amidst COVID-19, as he came back from a family trip to the Dominican Republic.

Thiessen said he returned from the Caribbean country on March 11, and on Thursday evening, he saw news stating that anyone who has travelled internationally should self-isolate. Neither the mayor or his wife have the virus.

“As a community, we need to be very careful so be it with hygiene, washing our hands, staying away from large gatherings as well as social distancing,” the mayor said.

As these are unprecedented times, the community will make decisions on a day-to-day basis as new information becomes available, Thiessen said.

“We will get through this crisis but we want to make sure we don’t put unnecessary stress on our health care and grocery supplies.”

“This is not a time for panic, but rather a time to make good wise healthy decisions,” he added.

READ MORE: ‘I’m profoundly disappointed,’ Horgan says of COVID-19 panic buying

Vanderhoof is no different when it comes to stockpiling toilet paper amidst COVID-19.

The Omineca Express reached out to both Jim’s Independent and Four Rivers Co-op to understand whether they had high sale volumes for toilet paper in the past few weeks since the virus broke out.

Jim’s Independent owner Jim Mackie said he doesn’t want to restrict people from buying toilet paper, but may have to do so because of the high sale volume. Mackie said his suppliers, Loblaws, have told everyone that there is a shortage due to the high demand since COVID-19 broke out.

Renee Dick, marketing co-ordinator for Four Rivers Co-op told the Omineca Express Wednesday, March 11, that their grocery store does have toilet paper available however their supplies are ‘fairly low at this time.”

She said the store was expecting to receive supplies of toilet paper, however their supplies are ‘disappearing quickly’.

“With fears around COVID-19, we were expecting more people to stock up on non-perishable food items instead of toilet paper,” Dick said, noting the store is working with their supplier on deliveries, but can’t provide any guarantee as to what supplies will be available at this time.

Additionally, RX drug mart I.D.A in Vanderhoof has put a restriction for toilet paper and paper towels, including hand sanitizers and gloves. Customers can buy two per household, per day.

READ MORE: Two COVID-19 patients in self-isolation at home in Northern Health

Thiessen said Vanderhoof as a community is known for taking care of fellow neighbours. “But when people start to hoard or stockpile necessities that someone else could need, that would be extremely sad.”

He added that, “we will go through this tough time and in the end we want to be known as a community that cares about others and did not take advantage of others.”

Meanwhile, a marketing professor from UNBC says an academic explanation to why people are stockpiling toilet paper can be explained as herd behavior or the band wagon effect, amongst other reasons.

“Simply because other people are doing something, adopting products, service, opinion or attitude, we jump on board, regardless of whether we understand the phenomenon,” said Xin Ge, associated professor for marketing at UNBC.

As toilet paper is not perishable, from the consumers point of view it can last forever, Ge added.

“People get panicked. And this panic is contagious. And this is a clear market signal. When people see the entire shelf space empty, it extradites panic. Then it pushes everyone to jump on board, which makes the situation worse,” she told the Omineca Express.

Premier Horgan announced Friday that he was ‘profoundly disappointed’ with people who were stockpiling toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks and other goods amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m profoundly disappointed with people buying and hoarding, then re-selling online. I think that’s just offensive and most people would bristle on that,” Horgan said during a news conference.

“Let’s be thoughtful and reflect on the consequences of people buying everything. What does that mean for the next person in line that needs that product?”

With files from Ashley Wadhwani.

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