Panic buying is once again causing chaos in the county’s supermarkets, and shoppers are being urged to “shop as normal” – with fears the trend could result in increased infections of Covid-19.

Across Cumbria, pictures of empty shelves and trollies overloaded with toilet rolls are flooding social media, with many stocking up due to worries another lockdown is coming.

But following the initial mayhem caused by panic buying when the March lockdown was announced, supermarkets are taking steps to ensure shelves remain well-stocked and everyone is able to buy their necessary groceries.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “We have good availability, with plenty of stock to go round, and we would encourage our customers to shop as normal.

“To ensure that everyone can keep buying what they need, we have introduced bulk-buy limits on a small number of products.

“To help our customers shop safely, We will also have colleagues at the entrances of our larger stores to remind customers about the safety measures we have in place, including the legal requirement to wear a face covering.”

A Morrisons spokesman added: “We are introducing a limit on a small number of key products, such as toilet roll and disinfectant.

“Our stock levels of these products are good but we want to ensure that they are available for everyone.”

But many feel the restrictions aren’t working, with News & Star readers branding the behaviour “selfish” and “absolutely ridiculous” after seeing empty shelves in Whitehaven, Workington and Carlisle stores, among many others.

One reader commented: “We are not in lockdown, shops will stay open.

“There was no need for it [last time] and no need for it now.

“Seriously, are you going to use up 24 nine-packs of toilet roll in a couple of weeks?”

But it’s not just the empty shelves causing concern, as Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, fears the excessive shopping habits could itself lead to another lockdown.

He said: “There is evidence of panic buying, which has prompted some of the supermarkets to limit purchases of specified items.

“Clearly, shoppers have seen the rise in Covid-19 infections and have taken a view that we’re heading for a second lockdown.

“That’s our biggest worry. If infections continue to rise, we could see a full-scale lockdown in November, coinciding with the vital pre-Christmas trading period.

“That would be extremely damaging.”

He added: “We’ve been encouraging businesses to follow the latest Covid restrictions to the letter to give NHS Test and Trace the best possible chance of getting the infection rate down so we don’t suffer another lockdown.”