Is It Legal for Stores to Ration Supplies During Crisis?

As the Covid-19 virus (Corona virus) continues to spread at alarming numbers, panic has set in. This has raised many ethical questions in treatment, supply distribution, and travel restrictions. As people have begun to fear quarantine and are implementing self-imposed quarantine measures, fear has led to stockpiling of necessary goods. For many unsuspecting citizens this has led to a severe lack of life sustaining resources.

Grocery store shelves are wiped clean of sanitizing products, such as aerosol sprays, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and hand soaps. The hysteria did not stop there, as shoppers are also stocking up with large packages of toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels. Maybe the most devastating problem is the lack of food availability. As frenzied shoppers cleared shelves of meat and canned goods, many are struggling to feed their families.

The most serious example of this is people purchasing infant formula and bottled water because it lasts longer than perishable milk, leaving parents with infants without the necessary formula to sustain their children. Much the same situation is occurring with greedy hands buying up baby wipes in place of toilet paper, leaving parents devastated as they search for products to clean their little ones.

All of this begs the question of what can be done to ensure everyone has the necessary supplies to care for their families and help stop the spread of this devastating virus.

Grocery stores in response to this crisis have begun to take matters into their own hands. Realizing the consequences on families that either lack the income to purchase goods ahead of time, or simply were ill prepared for what has occurred, has led to rationing measures to help mitigate the demands of increased supply needs.

With so many ethical issues at hand, you may be wondering if it is legal for stores to impose purchase limits on high demand items. As privatively owned corporations, stores are legally permitted to pose restrictions on how many high demand products may be purchased per family; thus, helping to close the gap between those purchasing way beyond their needs and those who are unable to meet their most basic needs.

This problem has proved extremely problematic for those who are disabled and elderly. Thus, some stores have taken it a step further, offering special times where only this group of people may shop to ensure they are not lost in the rush.

As the crisis continues, more and more stores are taking action to ensure a more even distribution of goods since it is within their legal right to do so. Let’s each do our part to ensure our fellow man is taken care of as we continue on through this turbulent time.