Face masks cause ‘flashpoint’ for retailers

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Retail NZ has welcomed news that vaccine passes and QR code scanning will no longer be required in cafés and close personal services like hairdressers and beauty services from but says that the Government urgently needs to act on mask rules.

“Moving to a greater sense of normality, is a good thing for the retail sector, including shops, cafés, hairdressers and beauty services. Many customers have been reluctant to get out to the shops over the past several months, out of a fear of covid,” Greg Harford, Retail NZ Chief Executive said today.

“It’s great news that we are now moving closer to normality, and it’s particularly good news that Vaccine Passes will no longer be required in cafés, hairdressers, barbers and beauty services. Moving away from restrictions is a signal to customers that people can get out and about, and Retail NZ is encouraging customers to support local businesses.

“However, the continued requirement for customers to wear masks, while effectively making them optional via an incredibly loose self-exemption process, creates significant tension, and a flashpoint of aggression for many customers.

“At the moment, the Government is telling us that it is important to wear masks. Despite months of pleading from Retail NZ about the levels of aggression and stress the current scheme creates for retail workers mental health and wellbeing, the Government is not prepared to put in place a proper process for managing mask exemptions. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Kiwis are claiming to be exempt from the mask requirement, yet there is no formal process for verifying this with medical doctors.

“If the Government truly believes masks remain important, then it needs to tighten up significantly on the exemption process. Equally, if masks are no longer required as an effective tool to manage COVID-19, then the Government should simply make them optional.”

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