Capital Chemist Charnwood has employed security guards after staff were threatened and intimidated following the implementation of coronavirus protection measures.
One customer threatened staff with a baseball bat and another threw a tube of cream at a staff member's head, while others have come straight from being tested for COVID-19 into the store for supplies and another breached self-isolation measures to "get out of the house".
The chemist's owner Samantha Kourtis said "many, many staff were screamed at and sworn at because it was inconvenient for the patient to follow social distancing measures".
She said in the past week the security guard has stepped in three times to prevent an altercation, but she felt the community was becoming much more understanding.
Over the past few weeks pharmacies across the capital have experienced unprecedented demand for general medicines in addition to hand sanitiser, face masks and toilet paper.
University of Canberra professor of pharmacy Mark Naunton said pharmacists were at the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak and were dealing daily with people acting irrationally, often from fear.
He said it was concerning that several pharmacists in the United Kingdom had died as a result of contracting COVID-19.
"I think it is a real threat if things get worse. Anything that's put in place to protect pharmacists is a good thing," he said.
He said pharmacists were trained to deal with sick people and people with mental health issues, but anecdotally there was more abuse than usual at the moment.
"Pharmacists are dealing with an inundation of requests, and when people don't understand things they can react differently. They don't always react in a logical way," he said.
Capital Chemist group business manager Andrew Topp said the situation had been "overwhemingly difficult and relentless".
He said earlier this year when 10 of his South Cost chemists had "massive disruptions" as a result of the bushfires he found that a really tough time.
"This pales in comparison," Mr Topp said.
"We can't believe how our world has changed in the last two weeks."
He said while "99.9 per cent of our customers have been absolutely brilliant", there were those that behaved very badly.
There were also people who didn't know how to cope in this unfamiliar situation.
Mr Topp said he's had a customer come through the doors wearing gloves and a mask in tears, saying: "I think I've got it.
"Thirty-thousand times a month people come in with a cold to buy some Codral or cough medicine, all of which is entirely reasonable in normal circumstances. But it is not reasonable now. Please don't come into a pharmacy if you're sick.
"I don't know how you can be a citizen of the world and not know that you shouldn't come in and plonk yourself down and cough at [people]."
He said most pharmacies, if they weren't already before the pandemic, were now offering contactless home delivery and phone advice.
He said those who do come into stores need to understand it might take a bit longer to look after them.
He said what gets him and his staff through are the gestures of kindness from the community - like a cup of coffee, a piece of cake, Dominoes pizza for lunch, positive comments, the acknowledgement of their hard work.
"It keeps us going, without that it's pretty thankless at the moment," Mr Topp said.
Erindale Pharmacy pharmacist Nick Trevethan said they had received cards with messages of thanks and bunches of flowers among other things.
"We've had a nice muffin delivery earlier today," he said on Saturday.
Mr Trevethan said he understood there was anxiety within the community but by and large the customers were understanding of the new measures in place as a result of the coronavirus.
Thirty-thousand times a month people come in with a cold to buy some Codral or cough medicine, all of which is entirely reasonable in normal circumstances. But it is not reasonable now. Please don't come into a pharmacy if you're sick.Capital Chemist group general manager Andrew Topp
He said it was important to reassure the public that pharmacies were an essential service and would remain open throughout the health crisis for people to access their medication.
ACT Pharmacy Guild president Simon Blacker, who is also managing director of Erindale Pharmacy and Priceline Woden, said the past few weeks had been very busy, and that wasn't likely to slow down.
He said they're now preparing for the onslaught of people wanting influenza vaccinations.
"It's the most queries we've ever had about having a flu vaccination," Mr Blacker said.
"We've done vaccination numbers in the first 10 days that you might normally expect to do in the first month of the season, it's gone through the roof."
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