Local COVID transmission prompts panic buying

As in the panic buying seen in 2020, toilet roll is again proving to be a high-demand item following news of a local transmission COVID-19 case. - Photo: Norma Connolly

In scenes reminiscent of March 2020, shoppers have been flocking to local supermarkets to stock up on toilet roll, disinfectants and hand sanitiser following news on Thursday of two locally transmitted COVID-19 cases.

The panic buying has prompted Foster’s supermarket and its sister store Priced Right to place limits on some of its products.

The company, in a statement issued Friday morning, urged its customers “to remain calm and keep to their usual shopping behavior and routine”.

Hurley’s told the Compass that it is also planning to introduce limits on items, while Cost-U-Less said there were no limits on products in its store right now “but things might change”. The Compass also reached out to Kirk Market and is awaiting a response.

- Advertisement -

Foster’s and Priced Right, similar to how stores reacted to the panic shopping last year, on Friday implemented a two-item limit on goods such as disinfectant, hand sanitisers, bleach and paper products.

The full list of products affected by the limits can be found on Foster’s website.

Following a government press conference on Thursday, when officials announced that two residents in the same household, with no travel history, had contracted COVID-19, local supermarkets across the island were filled with shoppers snapping up items. This, as in 2020, led to complaints from other shoppers that people were stockpiling products, like toilet paper and sanitisers, leaving shelves bare.

Cayman Islands Government Covid 19 Press Briefing

Cayman Islands Government Covid 19 Press BriefingJoin us live for the Cayman Island Government Press Briefing.

Posted by Cayman Compass on Thursday, September 9, 2021

Foster’s said that while its stores continue to have supply issues on some items due to the global pandemic, “we are still receiving a constant supply of product from our local and overseas partner suppliers”.

Woody Foster, the company’s managing director, said in the statement, “We will continue to receive product from our suppliers and our warehouse is fully stocked of product, including high demand items. While we understand that these times can cause panic, we ask you to remain calm when in our stores and to respect both our team and those around you.”

While mask wearing in stores and other indoor public areas has not been made mandatory, on Thursday, health and government officials urged people to maintain safety protocols such as handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing, and to avoid large social gatherings, until the source of the local transmission has been traced.

As well as the local transmission case, Cayman residents have also been spooked by a report on Thursday evening that a traveller, who had tested positive in a COVID-19 PCR test before flying, had been allowed to board a Cayman Airways flight from Jamaica and enter Cayman. That passenger and a travelling companion were placed in government quarantine, while everyone else on the plane, as is normal procedure for all arrivals, are also in isolation and being closely monitored by Public Health and Travel Cayman.

Foster’s, in its statement, said in light of the news of the arriving COVID-positive passenger, “we have decided as a precautionary measure, effective Friday 10th September, to implement an internal mask policy which requires all team members at Foster’s and Priced Right locations to wear a mask while in store”.

At Foster’s West Bay Republix store around 9am Friday, no panic buying was evident, though some shelves had been cleaned out, and several customers had opted to wear masks while shopping.

- Advertisement -

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now


  1. This is what happens when you put yourself in a bubble from day one and think you can go forever hiding yourself away. You would have been better off to learn to deal with it and have saved a major portion of your economy. Now after all this time back to masks, fear and hiding and the boarders haven’t even opened up. So sad to see Cayman turning into this.