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Is it ethical to stockpile groceries during the coronavirus crisis? Show more Show less
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All around the world we are seeing images of emptied supermarket shelves as people prepare for lockdowns. Is it ethical to ensure you have enough supplies for your family without regards to others? Or is it unethical not to think of other (potentially more disadvantaged) people's needs?

Stockpiling is a storm in a teacup Show more Show less

There are way bigger issues at hand than whether or not someone has more toilet paper for you. We should be focusing on ensuring healthcare services aren't at max capacity instead.
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The more paramount issue is contagion inside the stores

Overcrowding in stores leads to higher transmission rates of the disease. The bigger issue is for grocery store owners to focus on lowering the possibility of such transmission. More attention needs to given to such problems rather than stockpiling.

The Argument

Experts have warned the public that the COVID-19 virus can last on surfaces for up to 72 hours. [1]When people are busy buying items in grocery stores, they are likely to swipe their hands across shelves and counters. They are also probably standing closer to people than the recommended distance, and if there is any communication among shoppers, they are prone to exchanging droplets through the air. All of these things accelerate the rate of transmission of COVID-19. The real crisis faced by supermarkets is not stockpiling; it is contagion. Supermarkets are flooded with people who are generally in a state of frenzy. Due to lax social guidelines or restrictions, it is easy for people to be much closer to each other than recommended. Although grocery stores are now being cleaned on a regular basis, it is not enough to prevent the transmission of the disease. This is painfully obvious in the tragic deaths of many grocery store cashiers. As of just March 27, 41 grocery workers have died. [2] Also, more than 1500 grocery store workers tested positive for COVID-19. This goes to show how dramatic measures need to be implemented in grocery stores to protect workers and shoppers. If guidelines are established regarding how many people can enter the store and proper protective equipment is provided to workers and is required of shoppers, then this transmission can be slowed. Stockpiling is simply a minor problem that, through communication and media coverage, can be resolved. The much bigger issue to focus on is the contagion in stores.

Counter arguments

If the issue of stockpiling is resolved, then the rate of transmission of COVID-19 in stores would also be significantly lowered. Most people who are stockpiling end up spending much more time in stores than the normal shopper. Furthermore, due to their style of shopping, they are a lot more likely to come in contact with infected surfaces. Also, it is a common misconception that people who stockpile go to the store less often than those who do not. This is not true because while people can buy excessive amounts of non-perishable items, it is impossible for them to stock up on perishable items such as fruits, vegetables, and most dairy products. This causes them to return to the store on a fairly regular basis. If a better system was established allowing consumers to buy what they need in smaller quantities while simultaneously lowering the amount of time they spend in stores, then the issue of stockpiling could be resolved which in turn will resolve the issue of the contagion.

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Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.livescience.com/how-long-coronavirus-last-surfaces.html/source.html
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/12/grocery-worker-fear-death-coronavirus/html/source.html

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 16 Jun 2020 at 20:12 UTC

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