Media Releases

Mask use dropping off a cliff – Time to review the rules

26 June 2022

Retail NZ says that mask use by customers has fallen dramatically, and it’s time that we move forward and remove mandatory mask requirements in retail.

“On average, less than a third of customers around the country are wearing masks in-store, according to a survey of Retail NZ members this week,” Greg Harford, Retail NZ Chief Executive said today.  “The Government continues to say it’s compulsory to wear masks in retail settings, but not in other places such as hospitality.  At the same time, the Government doesn’t enforce the rules, and has created a loophole the size of 747 jumbo jet that allows anyone to claim an exemption for any reason.

“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.

“More than half of retailers say that the mask rules are not protecting their staff or customers, and two-thirds want the Government to make masks voluntary immediately.   

“It’s a nonsense to suggest that you need to wear a mask in all retail stores, while you don’t need to wear a mask in a crowded pub, sports event or awards dinner.

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


Media contact: 
Greg Harford 
Retail NZ
Chief Executive
027 243 2842
[email protected]


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