A Christchurch woman says the trial and stigma of entering stores without a mask make her anxiety, caused by incidents of childhood trauma, even worse.
Jody Devine said it ended in a loud and embarrassing confrontation with a security guard at a Christchurch supermarket when the guard demanded to know why he had an exemption card.
Devine said she wanted the public to realize that most people who don’t wear masks have legitimate reasons.
She said childhood trauma has left her with PTSD, prone to panic attacks and a tic when stressed.
She said that when she entered the Wainoni Pak’N’Save earlier this month, she showed the first security guard her mask exemption card, but when she was at the store, a second security guard asked for her card and a proof that you were eligible for it. .
She said that being questioned by security personnel about painful personal memories was extremely stressful and she reacted angrily to the questions.
Devine said that when the security guard grabbed her, she may have hit him, but said the whole incident was a blur to her.
She said she wants stores – and the public – to treat people who can’t wear masks with compassion and not assume they don’t wear a mask for a political reason.
She was on the verge of tears when she explained that even showing the waiver card triggers memories of her traumatic past.
“It’s horrible. Every time I have to go into a store I have to show this card that reminds me of what happened. Every time I go into a store and I have to show that card, it constantly reminds me of what happened to me as a child, and I already struggle with that. “
He said he has also had other incidents where people have made rude comments to him and given him a dirty look for not having a mask.
“It’s not just the way people look at me. It’s how I feel. That I’m a leper and that I’m bad for not wearing a mask when I can’t physically wear a mask.”
She has filed a complaint with the police alleging assault by the security guard, but has yet to receive a response from them.
New Zealand Disability Assembly Executive Director Prudence Walker said Jody’s experience reflects a situation that many disabled people who cannot wear masks face across the country.
He said they have had numerous complaints about people not accepting the waiver card, and Wainoni Pak’N’Save is a place he complains about frequently.
Walker said that under the Health Act, people who cannot wear a mask do not have to and are not required to provide further testing.
She said that people are not legally required to show an exemption card and certainly do not need to provide any additional proof of their disability.
“I would like to see an environment where we don’t have the exemption cards, and people don’t have to justify themselves and be threatened and reveal really personal information about it.”
Pak’N’Save Wainoni directed any responses to Foodstuffs head office.
The Foodstuffs spokesperson says they question Devine’s version of events.
Foodstuffs New Zealand director of corporate affairs Antoinette Laird said that when the customer visited the Pak’n’Save Wainoni store, they did not provide their mask exemption at the store entrance, and when asked about this, they were He became verbally and physically abusive, pressuring her. on the way to the store.
She said that after another outburst at the store, the customer was asked to leave.
Laird said abuse of any kind is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any of the stores.
He said they appreciate that some customers are unable to wear masks while shopping, and when this is the case, customers are kindly asked to provide their mask exemption documentation at each visit.