Watch: Chaos as Kmart customers flout social distancing

Heath Moore, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 May 2020, 1:45pm

Watch: Chaos as Kmart customers flout social distancing

Heath Moore, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 May 2020, 1:45pm

An Auckland mum has captured footage of the chaos at Kmart's Sylvia Park on the weekend, with customers jam-packed into the store and flouting social distancing rules.

Laura visited Sylvia Park Kmart on Sunday at 6.30pm in the hope of buying some items before her children went back to school.

When she walked in, she was met with a swarm of shoppers flouting social distancing rules.

But as she filmed the long line of customers breaking distancing regulations, she was baffled as to why Kmart had allowed so many people through the doors at one time.

She told the Herald there were no staff members attempting to enforce social distancing rules.

"I saw there was one security guard at the door. I started walking around the shop and saw the line. It inched further and further and pretty much wrapped around the entire shop.

"I was absolutely disgusted. Everyone was standing really close together, there was no staff around or security guard around to keep the line socially distanced from one another.

"The security guard wasn't counting how many people were coming into the store. When I walked in he didn't even see me, he was looking down.

"I was gradually counting and people were lining up every second. There were more than 100 people in the store."

According to the Government, all retail stores "must keep groups of customers two metres apart", and requires contact tracing if their "service by its nature requires less distancing".

Retail stores around the country should be limiting shopper numbers and will have social distancing markers throughout their stores.

Laura told the Herald that Kmart did have a small amount of social distancing markers near the checkout, but that the markings didn't extend far enough for the amount of people they had in store.

She says more than 100 people would have been in the store, and more than 60 people in line at 6.30pm, highlighting Kmart's lack of enforcement over social distancing rules.

"The line was endless. I'm really glad I didn't bring my children along. It blew my mind. People were just really stupid but there was no one there to control the crowds which was a bit weird.

"The only social distancing markings on the floors were close to the self checkout area. Nothing extended further out. But how the line was allowed to get that long is baffling. People were lining up between clothes aisles.

"Retailers must ensure people are keeping a two-metre distance. That wasn't happening.

"It frustrated me that there were no staff even keeping an eye on the line. Trolleys were just left unsanitised and all over the place. But I'm annoyed at customers not respecting others and not keeping apart. The whole thing was mind blowing."

Kmart has been contacted for comment.

Sylvia Park are currently using "people counting systems" to limit numbers and will issue alerts when the mall is nearing capacity.

It will close its doors and operate a "one out, one in" system when that happens.

On Monday, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said police had a number of complaints about retail businesses not having contact tracing systems, but reiterated contact tracing for retail customers wasn't a requirement as they're unlikely to be in close proximity for a long time.

But retail businesses have to be able to contact trace their staff.

Coster said reports of breaches at alert level 2 than other levels - police have had about 250 to 350 per day in level 2 compared to the 700 to 1000 they'd had in level 3.

There have been 983 breaches reported in level 2, mostly through the 10-5 phone line.

About 700 of those complaints were against businesses and 250 for mass gatherings.

Last week, Sylvia Park owners told the Herald they were pleased with the safety measures put in place and said shoppers have been responding positively to the safety requirements.

"People have been doing a good job social distancing and are responding positively to the new safety measures we've put in place," Kiwi Property general manager of asset management Linda Trainer said.