Supermarket shelves have been left bare across Sydney on Sunday as the city's Covid crisis continues to worsen.
Woolworths and Coles have both been hit with major supply chain issues after thousands of staff members at stores and key distribution warehouses were forced into isolation, causing a 'reduced product availability' on the shelves and online.
Social media was flooded with confronting images showing empty shelves in the fresh produce and non-perishable sections of several supermarkets.
Supermarket shelves have been left bare across Greater Sydney on Sunday as the city's Covid crisis continues to worsen (pictured, a Sydney Woolworths store)
Woolworths and Coles have both been hit with major supply chain issues after thousands of staff members at stores and key distribution warehouses were forced into isolation (pictured, Coles in Sydney)
Social media was flooded with confronting images showing empty shelves in the fresh produce and non-perishable sections of several supermarkets
Some TikTok conspiracy theorists suggested in the comments section the dire situation had been caused by recent truck blockades carried out by anti-vax transport workers.
However, Australia's supermarket juggernauts say the protests, which have mainly taken place along the NSW and Queensland border, have nothing to do with the supply chain issues facing Sydneysiders who are now entering their 12th week of lockdown.
'In playing our part to help protect the community, a number of our team members are currently in self-isolation to reduce the spread of Covid-19,' Coles told Daily Mail Australia in a statement.
'As a result, we are experiencing reduced product availability in stores and online.'
The retail chain said it has 'sufficient stock' available across its network, and is doing all they can to get those products onto shelves as quickly and safely as possible.
But with about 1,800 workers at key distribution centres and stores currently in quarantine in NSW, the business asked for customers' understanding and admitted it is a very 'challenging time'.
Woolworths is also feeling the pinch with 3,300 of its staff currently in isolation nationwide.
The meat section at a Sydney supermarket is seen mostly empty due to staff shortages
A fresh produce aisle is bare with thousands of supermarket workers in isolation
'You may have noticed some gaps on our shelves this week, or substitutions in your online order,' CEO Bradford Banducci said earlier this week.
'Unlike 18 months ago, this is less to do with surges in customer demand (aka 'the toilet paper wars') and more because of the extra pressure on our Distribution Centres, with over 500 of those team members needing to self-isolate as close or casual contacts.
'If you're shopping online in NSW and the ACT, you'll notice that currently, we are automatically allowing substitutions on all orders given the demand pressure.
'We know this isn't ideal, but it does mean there's less chance of missing out on an essential item. We'll revert to your preference as soon as we possibly can.'
Like Coles, Woolworths has apologised to shoppers for the inconvenience and pleaded with customers for 'patience during this time.