Coronavirus: Further calls for calm after Auckland supermarket manager 'punched in the face'

A woman has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a Warkworth supermarket employee on Thursday, with tensions at an all-time high amid New Zealand's coronavirus lockdown.

It's sparked further calls for calm from politicians, unions, and the supermarket brands who say such behaviour is unacceptable.

In a video posted to Facebook on Thursday, National MP Mark Mitchell provided details about the incident. He said it happened while shoppers were queueing up to enter the store.

"There was a flashpoint, a confrontation developed out of that and as a result, the New World manager was assaulted and punched in the face.

"Like I said, we have to show more tolerance, we have to be supportive of one another and encourage one another."

A police spokesman later clarified the incident took place at Countdown Warkworth, not New World.

As a result, a 45-year-old woman was arrested and will appear in North Shore District Court on May 14 charged with common assault, the spokesman said.

Countdown health and safety general manager Kiri Hannifin said the level of abuse its teams continue to face is "incredibly concerning and unacceptable".

"Our team has done a fantastic job over the past month meeting the unprecedented demand we have seen in our business, and now as they become part of New Zealand's essential workforce, they continue to deliver an outstanding service to communities across New Zealand.

"We appreciate that this is a time of huge uncertainty for all New Zealanders and that tensions are high, but taking frustration out on our teams who are working incredibly hard is unacceptable.

"They are putting absolutely everything they have into making sure Kiwis have the food and essentials they need to get through the lockdown - they deserve respect and kindness."

Foodstuffs, which owns New World and Pak'nSave stores, was contacted for comment. Meanwhile, First Union is also calling for more respect for supermarket workers.

There had been reports of supermarket employees being spat on, had items thrown at them, being racially taunted, as well as sworn at and abused, First Union retail secretary Tali Williams told Newshub.

"It's so unfair that all the rage gets taken out on them," she said.

"The main thing for people is to realise that these are working people too - with families, with their own fears about this disease.

"They're just trying to make an income for their family and they're scared just as you are." 

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