Protesters’ plan for in-store unmasking ‘is not acceptable’, supermarket management says
Supermarkets have told protesters planning to unmask in stores across the country on Sunday not to take out their frustrations on customers and staff.
Protesters circulated plans to go to supermarkets in the New World wearing their masks and then remove them in store to show their disapproval of current Covid-19 mask mandates.
The police confirmed that they would keep an eye on the situation and react if necessary.
But Foodstuffs NZ public relations manager Emma Wooster didn’t mince words when she told protesters to consider those they were putting at risk.
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She said branches were “aware and prepared for” the proposed protest and said staff and customers should be able to “shop and work in peace and feel safe at all times”.
“Our teams have been working extremely hard to keep customers and team members safe for over two years now, it’s stressful and challenging enough for everyone, so add to that entering the store without a mask and in groups is not acceptable,” says Wooster.
She said if people weren’t okay with wearing a mask while shopping, they shouldn’t take it out on the people responsible for ensuring they have access to groceries. .
“Show some respect for the work they do and for the other customers who want and need the protection.”
Retailers have reported incidents of taff abuse by people angry at the existing mandates.
Last month, a number of organic shop workers said Thing they faced “despicable” abuse from people who thought they were anti-mandate.
“These people coming in and really being very abusive, one person can ruin your day. But these people are in the minority,” said one retailer.
The anti-warrant movement has waned since the Wellington protest camp was shut down by police.
However, people have set up camps in other parts of the country, with some setting up camp in the red zone of Christchurch.
The ‘Freedom Village’ group – which has links to Kyle Chapman, the former leader of the far-right NZ National Front group – erected tents and towed caravans to the site between Brooker Ave, Dunair Dr and New Brighton Rd .