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Toilet paper shelves bare at Spokane-area stores amid new COVID-19 rules

Purchase limits are in place at some stores for items that have been popular during the pandemic, including toilet paper, paper towels and disinfecting wipes.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Some shelves at Spokane-area grocery stores are bare in what feels like a flashback to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Purchase limits are in place at some stores for items that have been popular throughout the pandemic, including toilet paper, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap. This comes after Gov. Jay Inslee's announcement on new coronavirus restrictions in Washington state. 

In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, KREM photojournalist Roger Hatcher said Target in Spokane Valley was "pretty quiet" but its toilet paper shelves were bare. 

The store has been limiting the quantities of toilet paper and flushable wipes to one per guest since March 13, 2020. 

One KREM 2 viewer reported the same scene at Target on Spokane's South Hill on Monday morning.

In a post on the Spokane subreddit, one user expressed frustration about a lack of toilet paper and paper towels at the WinCo location on Nevada Street. KREM digital journalist Kaitlin Riordan said toilet paper shelves were also empty during her weekend Costco trip.  

Gov. Inslee's plan calls for 25% capacity at in-person retailers, including grocery stores, as one of the busiest times of the year for shopping begins. 

“I really hope we don't have hoarding going on in our stores. That's really not necessary and most unhelpful,” Inslee said at his news conference on Sunday. 

Jeffery Temple, a spokesperson for Fred Meyer, said in a statement that stores are seeing a "high demand for many holiday items and those that have been popular throughout the pandemic."

"There is plenty of product in the supply chain as long as customers only purchase what they need," the statement reads in part.

Fred Meyer stores have "proactively and "temporarily" set purchase limits on certain products to two per customer, including toilet paper, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap, Temple said. The purchase limits apply in-store and to e-commerce orders.

KING 5's Amy Moreno contributed to this report.