Merriwa IGA praises locals for their patience and calm nature during the COVID-19 crisis

STAYING POSITIVE: Merriwa IGA manager David Martin with staff Robyn Jacobs and Teinna Taylor on Thursday morning.

STAYING POSITIVE: Merriwa IGA manager David Martin with staff Robyn Jacobs and Teinna Taylor on Thursday morning.

AMID the panic buying and customer tantrums we are still seeing at the big supermarkets, Merriwa IGA manager David Martin has praised locals for remaining relatively calm during the COVID-19 crisis.

While the local grocer has struggled to keep up with the nation-wide craze for toilet paper, locals in the small town aren't panic buying bulk items.

Mr Matin said it's basically business as usual in Merriwa.

"It's been a little busier than normal, but none of the panic like we've seen in the big supermarkets," he said.

"We are checking IDs to make sure people are local to be able to purchase certain items in high demand such as toilet paper.

"But we don't have a restriction on how many people can come into the shop, we're just asking people to be sensible."

He also said rumours of buses of people coming from out of town to buy groceries aren't true, as far as he's aware of.

"All of our staff has been advised that if there is a bus coming from the city to shut the door and lock them out straight away," he said.

"The majority of people walk in and see we have no toilet paper then walk back out anyway, we've had a few people taking photos, but that's it."

The owners and managers are working longer hours to keep up with higher demand and the store is still trading the same hours.

"Merriwa has been quite civil compared to other places," Mr Martin added.

"What happens in the city doesn't need to happen out here - it's crazy."

He said locals in Merriwa have also been respectful of social distancing rules to help combat the virus.

"In the last week since the Prime Minister introduced tougher bans it's obviously made people wake up," he said.

"I think they have that mentality in the country - they take things head on when they see them.

"I think they've actually started to realise that it is serious and it does involve the whole country.

"People are worried that the cases are getting closer to home."

Merriwa has an elderly population with a lot of people living on remote properties and the town is doing its bit to protect those most vulnerable.

"There is a group in town that's started a couple of days ago that's trying to assist the elderly," Mr Martin said.

"We are actually doing phone orders too and have done three or four in the last hour, we are also delivering food items to people's doors so they don't have to leave their house which is taking that risk away.

"We have seen quite a lot of younger people shopping for other people, looking after their nans, aunties, etc.

"Merriwa is pretty good that way.

"That's the best part of living in a small community - small community, big hearts."