Bunnings has denied it apologised to customers who refused to wear face masks in their stores after ‘Karens’ filmed themselves arguing with staff over the new rules.
Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Rose claimed the warehouse giant issued her with an apology after she entered the store in Maribyrnong, just west of Melbourne, with a medical certificate exempting her from wearing a mask.
Ms Rose, a self proclaimed high priestess witch who performs exorcisms for a living, said she was denied customer service and Bunnings management called the police on her.
‘Bunnings have just sent me an apology and pulled down their posts and asked me to provide my contact information so they can calmly and respectively find a solution to what wrongfully occurred yesterday in the Maribyrnong store,’ she wrote on Facebook on Monday.
But Bunnings have denied issuing an apology to shoppers who went against the mandatory mask requirement for residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire amid a second wave of coronavirus infections.
Managing Director Mike Schneider said Bunnings have put the welfare of their team and customers ‘at the core’ since the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘As the community has seen from a couple of disappointing incidents over the weekend, our team are doing everything they can to help keep everyone safe in sometimes challenging circumstances,’ he said.
‘To be absolutely clear, we require that all customers wear a face mask or face covering if they visit a Bunnings store or Trade Centre in metropolitan Melbourne, or the Mitchell Shire.
Mr Schneider said exceptions would only be made for children aged under 12 and customers with valid medical reasons.
‘Regardless of what some people have said online, we make no apologies for following the advice of the Chief Health Officer in order to keep everyone in our stores safe,’ Mr Schneider said.
‘And to those who are claiming we have backed down from enforcing these rules and apologised, let me be clear: we haven’t and won’t. And any representations that we have are false.
‘We won’t tolerate abuse against our team members and any customers who do not respect the hard work of our team will be denied entry — and if needed will be referred to Victoria Police.’
Mr Schneider also thanked ‘the vast majority of customers’ who have followed the rules.
Ms Rose emerged as one of the leaders of a group of Melburnians that have come to police attention since mandatory mask wearing laws were implemented on Thursday July 23.
‘I went shopping in my local Bunnings where I’ve spent thousands of dollars over nearly 18 years and was rudely illegally denied customer service due to not wearing a facial mask, despite the fact that I produced a legal medical certificate of exemption,’ she posted after visiting the store.
‘Management called the police, stating to police that my exemption was ‘bogus’ which is completely untrue.
‘This is absolutely disgusting treatment of a customer and a direct contradiction to Mr Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria’s, instructions stating that no person with a medical exemption is to be refused service, goods or products.’
The video showed Ms Rose referring to masked customers as ‘zombies’ as she walked without a mask through the aisles.
‘People are so very silly,’ she said. ‘And they’re so silly and it’s so very sad that they’re not evolved enough to see.’
Ms Rose was seen arguing with a checkout operator before she turned the video off.
Ms Rose’s stance came amid similar protests by another ‘Bunnings Karen’, Kerry Nash, who filmed herself in a store in the Melbourne suburb of Narre Warren on Friday.
She accused staff at the store of abusing her human rights by politely asking her to wear a mask, and was briefly arrested after clashing with police outside.
Ms Nash was later released by officers after revealing she had a medical exemption, which she had initially chosen not to present to staff.