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'I’m going to spit on you' - Retail workers being abused over masks

Supermarket workers are copping abuse from people refusing to follow mask-wearing policies.

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Many of the incidents are a result of the workers wearing masks. Source: 1 NEWS

Serena Singh, a Countdown store manager, said staff had faced verbal threats and aggression from some customers who didn’t want to comply with the rules. 

Singh said she’d also been filmed when someone had asked about the mask policy. 

“The team are just trying to offer a mask for those who may not have it. They shouldn’t have to be spoken to quite so viciously.” 

In one incident, she said a customer had told her: “I’m going to spit on you if you try and make me [wear a mask], I’m going to punch you.”

Retail NZ said workers were already facing increased abuse, and that the mask mandate had only exacerbated it. 

“It’s really just not fair to take your frustrations or your anxieties out on retail workers who are just trying to do their best to maintain a safe shopping environment,” Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said. 

Under Alert Level 2 for regions outside of Auckland, masks must be worn inside most indoor public facilities and also by staff in public-facing businesses, but they can be taken off for eating at hospitality outlets.

Under Alert Level 4 in Auckland, masks are mandatory at all essential services, such as supermarkets.