Don’t panic-buy! Don’t panic-buy! How to spend your last hours before lockdown

What to do – and what not do – before six weeks of restrictions kick in on Wednesday night

Photograph: Getty Images

Photograph: Getty Images


DON’T: Shop till you drop

During the spring lockdown in Ireland, supermarkets quickly ran out of essential items such as pasta, rice and flour. Soap, disinfectants and sanitising products also disappeared from the shelves. However, supermarket managers are advising customers not to panic-buy this time round so stocks don’t run out.

“All these essential items are back in store and we haven’t run out again and we won’t run out unless people bulk-buy,” says Bobby Heade, assistant manager at Supervalu in Blackrock, Dublin.

He thinks people will be more measured in this lockdown, realising that food stores will remain open. “People shopping at the weekend were more fearful that they wouldn’t be able to get Christmas presents but they are practical when it comes to food. We haven’t seen any spike in demand for online shopping either this time round,” says Heade.

He does however envisage off-licence sections of supermarkets might close early. “If it is decided that off licences will be closed earlier, we’ll follow them,” he says.

DO: Get your head together

Getting into the right mindset is the most important thing you can do to prepare for life under greater restrictions, according to Prof Ciaran O’Boyle, director of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland Centre for Positive Psychology and Health.

“My heart goes out to people who are facing financial disaster [with businesses closed] because what you do and love doing is also what gives you meaning. However, it’s best to control what you can – even small things like what you wear and what you eat are important in this time of uncertainty and anxiety.

DON’T: Stock up on medicines

Dr Phillip Sheeran-Purcell, Wicklow GP and GP-lead of the Wicklow Covid-19 Community Assessment Hub says that people should contact their GP if they are sick but they shouldn’t panic-buy medicines. “GPs have had a lot of time to adapt [to Covid-19] and we are doing phone and video consultations or face-to-face consultations, and the community assessment hubs are there for patients who might have Covid-19,” he says.

DO: Plan lockdown projects

During the spring lockdown, many people took the opportunity to clear out the clutter, repaint rooms or spruce up their gardens. It was arguably the perfect time of year to do so but if you’re planning to embark on DIY projects this time round, remember the weather is colder and it’s harder to have windows open to air freshly painted rooms. And painting under artificial light is more prone to errors.

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If you’re committed to a home renovation project, no harm to get the necessary equipment in now, but hardware outlets are deemed essential services so there should be no need to rush to the DIY outlet today.

DON’T: Cancel medical appointments

Dr Sheeran-Purcell says the biggest concern of doctors is that people with new serious illnesses such as cancer might put off going to the GP when they should. He says that those who haven’t had their flu vaccine yet should turn up for their appointments.

DO: Buy a book

DIY isn’t the only thing you can do when housebound a lot of the time. Support your local bookseller and feed your head at the same time, by picking up some quality reading material to get you through lockdown. As lockdown continues, try to support local businesses over international ones as you make your literary purchases.

DON’T: Go visiting

Currently, we are advised to keep our social contacts as low as possible which means that we shouldn’t be seeing extended family or friends. Before the country even moves to higher restrictions, we are advised not to visit any other household – either in their home or their garden.

So, rushing out to catch up with a friend or family member – or meet your romantic partner – before lockdown begins is against public health advice.

Even when the restrictions begin at midnight on Wednesday, you will still be able to visit vulnerable or elderly family members who live alone. And, like during the last lockdown, you will have the chance to appreciate and look out for neighbours – either those who live alone or who might be feeling more fragile as the evenings close in.

DO: Maintain perspective

Don’t disengage but instead maintain a network of relationships that are valuable for social support but also to give you perspective, advises Prof O’Boyle.

“It will get tougher but there is an end in sight. Vaccines will come and the clinical treatment of Covid-19 is much better this time round. Choose a time of day for your “worry window” and shut it for the rest of the day. Get enough sleep, don’t drink too much alcohol and break the pattern of your day by spending time outdoors once or twice during the day.”

DON’T: Hit Decathlon and Ikea

Standing in queue in inclement weather – and that’s what you’d be doing – seems the opposite of sensible right now. Most things you want can wait six weeks. Investing the kind of affordable but robust outdoor gear that Decathlon sells might help you to stay fit and healthy as the weather grows colder. But the easier option is to buy via – or numerous other outdoor online stores.

Shopping at Ikea Dublin as it re-opened in June. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times
Shopping at Ikea Dublin as it re-opened in June. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

DO: Get a haircut (if you can get a slot)

Watching the colour fade from the hair of ageing friends and family members provided a bit of a giggle for some during the last lockdown. And hairdressers pleaded with Government to allow them to re-open earlier than first envisaged, both for the physical and mental health of their clients. Now, it’s likely that hair salons and barbers will close again.

So, yes, if you need a haircut, colour or re-styling, get on the phone now before all appointments are booked out. Alternatively – and this applies to men more than women – buy a hair grooming kit and recruit a kindly close contact to cut your hair or do it yourself.

DON’T: Go high-street Christmas shopping

Some people started Christmas shopping in September. Some rushed out over the weekend, fearing the impending closure of toy shops and other “non-essential” outlets. Others will wait until December when the new restriction period ends, giving us all a few weeks to shop for Christmas.

Online shopping boomed during the earlier lockdown and may be an even bigger feature of this one. So, ask yourself is it really necessary to go shopping for Christmas presents in the next few days? Careful planning of online purchases would be time better spent, but don’t leave it too late – there’s likely to be a rush on online orders.

DO: Get some exercise in

In general, people could think more about staying healthy during the lockdown, says Dr Sheeran-Purcell. “We all put on a few Covid pounds so it’s a chance to do things differently this time. With more time at home, you can eat well, exercise locally, get fresh air and even give up smoking.”

You don’t have to do this before the restrictions kick in, but there’s also no reason not to get a few steps in before – as well as during – lockdown.

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