Winston Peters appalled at lack of mask-wearing on Air New Zealand flight

Winston Peters is appalled at a lack of mask-wearing on Air New Zealand flights to protect passengers from the spread of COVID-19. 

"I get on the plane and I say, 'Where's the masks?' They say, 'We're not doing that anymore,' and my question is, 'Why not?'" the Deputy Prime Minister said on Tuesday.

"Do you want to fill that middle seat up? Put your masks on, be smart." 

Peters wants planes full and flying to Australia as soon as possible. He said the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble should be in place already.

"[The] bubble should have been open as I say, like level 1, yesterday."

The Government says we're good to go on the trans-Tasman bubble but that it's up to the Australians to get their act together.

We're just waiting upon them now," Peters said. "As soon as they say we're off, we're off."

Peters is pushing hard now for opening it up state-by-state to the likes of Queensland and Tasmania where they've smashed COVID-19 too. 

"Tasmania is COVID-free, Northern Territory is COVID-free, Queensland is COVID-free… You can't have the country paralysed by its worst performer." 

But he is not so keen on the idea of a Pacific Islands bubble.

Government sources have told Newshub they would rather see the economic benefits of tourism domestically - flowing to Rotorua rather than Rarotonga.

Both Peters and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are celebrating New Zealand's new-found freedom under COVID-19 alert level 1 which came into force on Tuesday. 

The Prime Minister visited Trevelyan's Kiwifruit and Avocado Packhouse in the Bay of Plenty and told reporters it was "a good feeling to feel a bit more normal".

The Deputy Prime Minister claimed victory over the move, saying: "I did a war dance to make sure we got to level 1."

Out in the workforce it's a stark contrast to the level 1 festivity. Employees at SkyCity are facing the grim repercussions of a business that could not operate fully under the COVID-19 restrictions. 

"I'm totally shattered - totally shattered," said SkyCity casino dealer Rahul Kotnala.

Fellow casino dealer Harvey Transmontero added, "I'm really still in shock - like deep down I'm panicking I don't know what to do."

The pair have been given just two days to decide if they'll take redundancy or go from full-time to just eight hours a week.

"Eight hours is not enough. I can't pay my bills - it's really hard for me, I'm emotionally distressed right now," said Kotnala.

Fashion retailer Max is making cuts too. Senior management took a permanent 30 percent pay cut but it wasn't enough. It's closing 17 stores.

The company didn't put a number on redundancies, just saying it would be significant and they were absolutely devastated.

The Prime Minister took a shot at The Warehouse Group on Tuesday, "angry" at the company for plans to lay off more than a thousand workers. 

"New Zealanders are pulling together at this time - our team of 5 million - to try and support one another and my hope is that we see that from all parts of society and business."

National's Finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith said the Prime Minister should "stick to her knitting"

That comment was labelled sexist and Newshub understands the National leadership team had a conversation with him about it and there was acknowledgement he should have chosen his words better. 

The companies now making layoffs claimed the Government wage subsidy.

Max got paid $1.6 million, SkyCity took $21.7 million, and The Warehouse Group got $67.3 million.

"Ultimately, that was to try and keep those employees in work," Ardern said.

The Prime Minister's lashing out at The Warehouse Group earned her a rebuke from Retail NZ calling for her to "be kind" to the business community.