Advice

Mask exemptions

What you can ask of customers?

As we are currently under the orange setting of the traffic light system it is still compulsory for customers and staff in retail shops, shopping malls, hairdressers and beauty services to wear masks.

Customers in hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs) are no longer required to wear face masks – but public-facing staff in these businesses are still required to be masked.

It is reasonable for you to check whether a person is exempt from the rule to wear a face mask by asking to see a valid exemption card. It is inappropriate to enquire about the nature of the disability or condition. 

On Wednesday 27 April 2022 the Government announced an update to how mask exemptions will be managed. People wanting to claim exemption will now have the option of applying for an exemption card through the Ministry of Health, which will then issue them with a personalised card which can be presented anywhere mask mandates are still in place. This new process is completely optional.

Any existing ‘exemptions’ that have been issued previously are still valid, and there will still be no legal obligation for any card to be presented when requested.

Stores have the right to refuse entry to anyone displaying bad behaviour or aggression.

Consider the following for aggressive customers: 

  • Display the Shop Nice and mask wearing signage at the door and instore 
  • Advise of alternative ways to shop with you, e.g. through delivery 
  • If the situation gets heated, call the police and deny entry.

Supporting your staff 

We know the mask exemption process is stressful for you and your staff. We suggest the following to support your team. 

  1. Access the training to help staff de-escalate conflict
  2. Offer mental health support to staff impacted by an incident of abuse
  3. Talk to your local business community and local police officer about the incidents 
  4. Talk to Retail NZ – we have advice and information on how to access all of the above to support your team


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