Grocery stores are bringing on additional off-duty police officers and private security guards to help manage crowded aisles, long lines and jammed parking lots during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to a CNN report, panic buying from coronavirus has led to empty shelves and snaking lines at supermarkets across the country. There have been scattered reports of fights breaking out in wine and toilet paper aisles. "This is a natural reaction to some of the panic and frenzy we have been seeing," David Levenberg, president of Center Security Services, a retail security consulting firm, told CNN.  "Supplies are limited and the more people think they need to hoard toilet paper, the more likely it is that things will get out of control. There needs to be some organization and a physical deterrent to aggressive behavior at these stores," Levenberg said.
According to the report, ShopRite, Stop & Shop and Kroger (KR) are three major chains increasing their security. Kroger has increased its off-duty police and uniformed presence in Columbus, Ohio, said a spokesperson for the city police department. Walmart, notes CNN, is using a mix of off-duty law enforcement and third-party security, a spokesperson said. "The big difference is that everything is at a much broader scale because it's all happening nationally."

Some ShopRite stores are adding private security guards to help with crowd control or paying local police departments to direct traffic in crowded parking lots, adds CNN

Other local grocery stores have also been experiencing an overwhelming amount of customers inside their stores. Another news report notes that in South Carolina, at 14 Carrot Whole Foods in Lexington, owner Ed Elbrecht says his store has been overwhelmed with business. Employees are working extra hours, and he’s hired extra staff to help meet demand. “It takes all of us to work together to make this happen. I've never seen anything like this in my lifetime," said store clerk Tami O'Brien.

Dollar General announced this morning it plans to nearly double its normal hiring rate and add up to 50,000 employees by the end of April, says the news report. Target, they say, is offering additional hours and more pay to its current employees, while also working to hire additional staff.