Police officers with beards removed from frontline during Delta outbreak due to mask concerns

Police with beards are being removed from frontline roles amid the Delta COVID-19 outbreak because they can't safely wear the appropriate protective gear. 

In a statement on Friday, NZ Police said all officers are required to wear an N95 mask as part of their PPE kit while on duty. 

As a result frontline officers are required to be clean-shaven so they can properly wear the mask.

"Being clean-shaven ensures that a proper seal around the mouth and nose can be achieved. It is important if staff are provided the right PPE for deployment, then they are also provided the necessary guidance to keep them safe whilst wearing the PPE provided," the statement said.  

"As such, police with beards will not be undertaking frontline duties at this time and will be deployed to alternative duties. This includes staff who maintain their beard for religious or cultural reasons. 

"A number of other staff have already chosen to remove their facial hair to ensure they are taking all possible safety precautions."

Police said they don't keep a record of how many staff have beards and won't in the future.

New Zealand is in alert level four lockdown amid a community outbreak of the highly infectious and deadly Delta variant. 

During level four everything must be closed and people must remain at home except to access essential services. Police are an essential service and continue operating throughout the pandemic. As do healthcare services, supermarkets and chemists.