Fury as reopened NSW Kmart stores flooded with shoppers

Wild scenes at a Sydney Kmart store show “hundreds of people” clambering for bargains, sparking fears of a superspreader event.

Wild scenes inside a Kmart store filmed moments after NSW reopened following 15weeks of lockdown have angered social media users.

Footage showing the inside of the budget retailer’s Mt Druitt store just after midnight shows huge crowds filling their trolleys, rushing to grab items and lining up to pay.

Another clip shared before the store opened its doors revealed mammoth lines snaking outside the entrance as people braved miserable weather to queue outside stores after lockdown restrictions lifted at midnight this morning.

Retail outlets were forced to close in July due to NSW’s rising case numbers.

But with the state hitting its 70 per cent double vaccination target last week, stores are now allowed to reopen from today to those who are fully vaccinated.

Kmart stores in Blacktown and Mt Druitt opened at 12.01am – but the rush to be among the first inside has sparked fears the “chaos” could spark a “superspreader event”.

“There is something sick about this,” one social media user lamented.

“Superspreader event waiting to happen,” another remarked.

One questioned: “What do they need from the shops at midnight on Sunday?”

As well as disbelief, there were claims many of the attendees didn’t sign in using the QR code system.

Kmart told news.com.au it had a “number of safety precautions in place including reduced store capacities to ensure customer and team safety” and none of these had been breached in the reopening rush.

“We are lucky to operate large format stores like supermarkets that can have a number of people safely shopping and I can confirm that none of our stores have gone over these capacities this morning,” the spokesperson said.

“The footage at our Mt Druitt does show lots of excited customers in line to check out – we often see this a short time after opening and we will continue to work together with our customers and continue to adhere to our safety practices and government customers.”

New rules for the double vaccinated include mandatory face masks when shopping, social distancing, customer limits and QR code check ins.

“Am I the only person to think that after everything NSW has gone through, lining up to shop and then battle it out at Kmart before and after midnight is about the dumbest reason for “Freedom”? one person wrote on Twitter.

“Looking at the crowds in Sydney last night is terrifying. I really don’t understand crowds queuing @kmart at all. Everyone could shop online during the lockdown. The behaviour is baffling,” another agreed.

One described the scenes as “the entitlement of Sydneysiders labelling the behaviour “disturbing”.

“COVID DID NOT DISAPPEAR AT MIDNIGHT. Now let’s watch the cases spiral because too many idiots went to Kmart,” he finished.

Others said the “chaos” was completely unnecessary.

Another video shared on TikTok by user @dibzbaby of hectic crowds inside Mt Druitt was also met with criticism.

“People have clearly learnt nothing,” one said.

“That is just nuts! I thought the stores have to limit how many people can be in there,” another asked.

A video posted by journalism student Liam Gilleland earlier in the morning showed a giant line of at least 50m snaking outside the Penrith Kmart store “minutes before midnight”.

As if predicting the stampede of customers, Kmart took out a full-page advert in today’s Daily Telegraph, reminding shoppers that while stores are reopening they can still use Click & Collect as well as its online shopping services and SocialQ – the ability to book your spot to shop in store during busy times.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | [email protected]

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