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Countdown 'disappointed' after supermarket staff verbally, physically abused by customers

One supermarket chain is “disappointed” with the way some shoppers have been behaving in-store in the wake of the country’s Covid-19 alert level changes.

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Kiri Hannifin says verbal and physical abuse is "completely unnecessary". Source: Breakfast

Since Auckland moved into Alert Level 3, and the rest of New Zealand into Level 2, reports of disorder and panic at grocery stores across the country have been shared.

Kiri Hannifin of Countdown says there were thousands of people that flocked to stores on Tuesday night following the Government’s Covid-19 announcement and there's been instances of Countdown staff being verbally and physically abused.

The supermarket has since changed its store hours and put limits on certain products to keep up with demand, but Ms Hannifin says the abuse, and chaos is “completely unnecessary”.

She is urging customers to be kind, especially to staff who are only just getting over the emotional toll from the last lockdown.

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“I’m super worried about them (staff). We’ve only just recovered from March and April it was super tough on them, they’ve had three months of incredible workload and pressure and they’ve all been really scared and anxious,” she says.

She says she’s really worried about how staff will cope if the abuse and panic buying continues.

“Yesterday was tough, we had a really big day across New Zealand. We had a lot of anxious customers in and we had some verbal and physical abuse which is really awful to hear.”

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Video posted online shows the altercation after the change in alert levels meant customers had to pack their bags outside the store. Source: Supplied

Ms Hannifin says she understands everyone is feeling anxious, but there is plenty of stock to go around.

“It’s been a tough few days but we feel really prepared, we learnt a lot from last time. And I think putting limits on some of our products and reducing the store hours is going to help us have a really controlled environment.”

“If we can do anything as a country to this time to help, it would be to be gentle and kind to one another, and all of the essential workers out here including our team.

“There’s lots of food, shop normally in our stores, we'll look after you.”