'Is this even legal?': Online mask retailer uses official Government COVID-19 branding on advertisement

covid 19 mask flyer
The flyer was spotted at a Dunedin bus station, where it was photographed and posted to Reddit. Photo credit: Reddit/RikoDash.

A local online mask retailer has come under fire for seemingly passing off an advertising poster as an official Government COVID-19 health flyer. 

The poster was spotted at the Bus Hub in Dunedin, where it was photographed and shared to the New Zealand sub-Reddit. 

"Sign 'maskuerading' as official government poster," Reddit user RikoDash captioned the post. 

The ad uses the distinctive yellow and white stripes along with black text of Government-issued COVID-19 health warnings and informs readers that from Monday August 31, all people travelling on public transport will be required to wear masks. 

"With some great tutorials online, you can make your own or buy online from great reliable companies," the poster reads, before posting the company's web address and a discount code. 

The official 'Unite against COVID-19' slogan is also used on the bottom of the advertisement. 

Commenters on the Reddit post questioned whether the move was "even legal". 

"That's pretty shit, makes it look like the company is Government-affiliated," wrote one person. 

"Is this even legal? It seems extremely disingenuous," wrote another. 

A Government spokesperson for the COVID-19 response told Newshub that as outlined on the COVID-19 website, non-Government bodies can only use the content for non-commercial purposes while making it clear it came from the website and "is owned by the Crown". 

"The New Zealand Government logo and all other logos, icons, emblems, and trademarks on the site are protected by law. You must not copy or use any logo, icon, emblem, or trademark without express permission and compliance with applicable laws," the site reads. 

"The COVID-19 Response Group will seek to make contact with anyone who misuses Covid19.govt.nz content to educate them on its terms of use," the spokesperson added. 

At the time of publishing, the online mask retailer has not responded to Newshub's request for comment.