COVID-19: North Shore Four Square workers praised for patiently dealing with 'inconsiderate', 'abusive' woman refusing to wear mask

Workers at a North Shore Four Square supermarket are being praised for the way they patiently dealt with a woman refusing to wear a mask while she taunted and filmed them.

Footage shows one of the workers calmly asking the woman to put a mask on, while she claims she's "medically exempt" - despite having no documentation to prove it.

Masks were last week made mandatory for people accessing essential services during COVID-19 alert level 4.

In the video, filmed at Four Square Torbay just after 4:30pm on Tuesday, the woman filming can be heard asking the workers, "are you telling me I can't buy food?"

She continues to harass them and accuses them of "breaking the law".

"I'm not breaking the law," the worker hits back. "This is my shop and this is my duty for [the] safety of other customers, right?"

The woman then claims she "doesn't have a printer" to print her mask exemption documentation.

"I haven't done anything wrong," she says. "That's not a requirement by law so please ring the police and get them to come down here because I want to get this sorted out."

The worker again asks her to leave, before the woman accuses him of "discriminating against people who are medically exempt".

Another shopper wasn't buying the woman's claims: "Just wear a mask!"

The video ends with the woman accusing the worker of breaching social distancing guidelines. Now, police have been notified of the incident.

"A woman in the store had reportedly become verbally abusive towards staff and other customers at the store after refusing to wear a face covering," Waitematā east area commander Insp Stefan Sagar said.

"Police attended the store shortly afterward but the woman had already left the area. Police will be making further enquiries into the matter including reviewing CCTV footage.  

"Generally speaking, police will be taking an education-first approach around the requirement to wear a mask at essential services, such as supermarkets. However, we would like to remind people that enforcement action will be taken where necessary for the safety of everyone."

Foodstuffs, which operates major New Zealand supermarket brands including Four Square, New World and Pak'nSave, praised the Torbay staff for the way they dealt with the incident.

"Our Four Square team showed an unbelievable amount of patience towards this customer who we think is being extremely inconsiderate to our team who have been working tirelessly for days to ensure the needs of their community are met," Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said.

"As the customer had no exemption documentation and refused to wear a face-covering the store had no option but to ask her to leave in order to keep their team and other customers safe.

"We applaud them for the calm manner through which they managed this situation - and we ask customers to respect our teams and follow the requirement mandated by the government to wear a face-covering while shopping. The safety of our customers and teams is a top priority for us, and being rude to our staff is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."