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Retailers alarmed as in-store mask use ‘drops off a cliff’

(Source: Bigstock)

Retail NZ says it is time for the government to remove mandatory mask requirements in retail stores as customer mask use has dropped sharply.

Greg Harford, chief executive of Retail NZ reports fewer than a third of customers wear masks in-store, and the government does not enforce the rules, even though it is mandatory to wear masks in retail settings.

“WorkSafe and MBIE have basically told retailers not to ask customers to mask up, and where businesses are asking unmasked customers to cover their faces, this is leading to significant aggression and unhappiness from disgruntled customers,” he said. 

Furthermore, Harford says more than half of retailers believe the mask rules are not protecting their employees or customers, and that two-thirds want the government to make masks optional immediately.

Harford also says recommending masks in all retail stores is ineffective, when people do not need to wear a mask in a crowded pub, at a sporting event, or an awards dinner.

“The current rules aren’t working, and it is time that the government moved to recommending masks, rather than making them compulsory,” he added. 

“Just as in the hospitality sector, retail businesses should be free to require masks if they think it appropriate; while customers should also be empowered to wear masks if they think it’s necessary, or to shop online if they want to avoid all risk.”

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