Coronavirus: Arcade owner uses toilet roll and hand sanitiser as prizes in grabber machines amid shortage fears

Some supermarkets are rationing staple items due to risk of stockpiling 

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 10 March 2020 18:33 GMT
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Coronavirus: Arcade fills grabber machine with toilet roll

Toilet roll and hand gel have been placed in arcade grabber machines as prizes amid fears that hygiene products could run out in shops due to coronavirus-driven demand.

Arcade owner Eddy Chapman decided to swap toys for toilet roll after seeing people stocking up on the items as they prepared for possible self-isolation.

He said he noticed shoppers “panic-buying” the product and decided to “have a bit of fun with it” in his East Yorkshire arcade.

Meanwhile in Devon, another man has made soap and hand gel the prizes in a grabber machine in his arcade.

“We evicted the character from Frozen and the Peter Rabbit teddy bears and replaced them with hand sanitiser and toilet rolls,” Rob Braddick from Ho Barts Amusement Arcade said.

Shelves across the country have been emptied of goods, including toilet paper, after Public Health England urged members of the public to “plan ahead” in case they have to stay at home for several weeks to limit the spread of the virus.

On Tuesday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK jumped to 373 – up by 57 compared to the day before – and a sixth person who had contracted coronavirus died.

Mr Chapman said that he has had “fantastic” feedback from visitors to his toilet roll-based arcade machine in Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

“Everybody that comes to it is laughing,” the Chapman’s Funland owner said.

One man from Pontefract who managed to grab toilet roll from the machine said: “I am chuffed to bits. It were worth driving 68 miles and spending £30 to win that.”

Some supermarkets have said they will ration certain essential items – including hand gel and soap – to prevent stockpiling amid a coronavirus outbreak.

Tesco has limited the sale of goods such as pasta and long-life milk, while Waitrose has said it will “temporarily cap” certain items online, including hand sanitiser.

Oliver Dowden, the British culture secretary, has said the government is in “constant contact” with major retailers to ensure supplies are available and that shelves are restocked as necessary.

He told BBC Breakfast: “There is absolutely no need for anybody to stockpile or anything like that.

A hospital in Northampton has said that bottles of hand gel have gone missing from the end of patients’ beds and their welcome desks in an appeal asking people to stop taking them home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The government has advised people to self-isolate for 14 days if there is the risk they may have contracted Covid-19, a flu-like virus which can develop into pneumonia.

More than 114,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus across the globe, with the number of deaths surpassing 4,000, according to a Reuters tally on Tuesday.

Additional reporting by agencies

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