Australian paper prints blank pages to ease toilet paper panic buying

Australia is not the only country facing excessive stockpiling.

Customers load shopping carts with toilet paper and water at a Costco store in Carlsbad, California (photo credit: REUTERS)
Customers load shopping carts with toilet paper and water at a Costco store in Carlsbad, California
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Northern Territory News in Australia printed eight blank pages in their Thursday newspaper, declaring that it should be used as toilet paper for their subscribers, as the land down under faces supply shortages directly linked to coronavirus panic.
The situation is at its most dire point in Australia, as supermarket shelves have been cleared in minutes after the first local death was reported two weeks ago and multiple new cases of the virus have emerged, sparking a renewed frenzy.
In light of these recent developments, NT News decided that Australians living in the Northern Territories should be given a bit of relief.
"Run out of loo paper? The NT News cares," the newspaper said. "That's why we've printed an eight-page special lift-out inside, complete with handy cut lines, for you to use in an emergency."
The editor remarked to the Guardian Australia that "it's certainly not a crappy edition."
The outrage escalated in Sydney at a branch of the supermarket chain Woolworths, when police rushed to the scene after a shopper allegedly pulled a knife during an argument over toilet rolls in the aisles. Woolworths is now rationing toilet paper to its customers –  four per person – to "“ensure more customers have access to the products."
Additionally, Australian recycled toilet paper company Who Gives a Crap announced that they had completely run out of their stocked supply, with the statement subject line "holy crap."
In recent weeks, coronavirus panic has led to hordes of customers around Australia looking for toilet paper and other sanitary supplies – and being met instead with barren shelves and hysteria.
Costco has put limits on purchases of milk, eggs, rice, disinfectants and soap, and the Coles Group Ltd. began posting signs in stores warning of shortages of hand and laundry sanitizer.
The run on toilet paper in particular set off the trending hashtags #toiletpapergate and #toiletpapercrisis on Twitter, along with photos of overloaded shopping trolleys and eBay sales of a typical $15 pack of 32 rolls selling for $500.
"We are trying to reassure people that removing all of the lavatory paper from the shelves of supermarkets probably isn't a proportionate or sensible thing to do at this time," explained Dr. Brendan Murphy, Australia's chief medical officer, to parliament this week.
Even Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in on a purchasing trend that appears to be at odds with other countries' stockpiling of items with a long shelf life, such as canned goods, telling the public that major grocers had assured him they could meet any spike in demand.
Consumer experts have analyzed the irrational frenzy, explaining that the toilet paper panic can be attributed to "herd behavior" – that when we see other people doing something, we feel like we have to do the same thing.
Carmel Madadshahi contributed to this report.