Mr Gualtieri issued a statement after hundreds of shoppers were filmed rushing into Kmart stores across Greater Sydney as midnight struck on Monday’s ‘freedom day’, sparking outrage online.
“As per the NSW Government requirement, customers will need to show proof that they are fully COVID-19 vaccinated, unless a medical exemption applies,” Mr John Gualtieri said in a note to shoppers.
“We ask for your patience and support as we roll this new process out across our store network.”
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As part of NSW’s reopening, retail stores can welcome one person per four square metres, with unvaccinated people only able to access click and collect services and critical retail.
Chaotic footage posted to social media on Monday showed hundreds of shoppers lining up outside Kmart stores in Sydney’s west, running into the shop just minutes after lockdown was lifted.
“Seeing the crowds and the entitlement of Sydneysiders overnight is disturbing,” one person tweeted.
“COVID DID NOT DISAPPEAR AT MIDNIGHT. Now let’s watch the cases spiral because too many idiots went to Kmart.”
“How are they checking vaccination status? It would be a pretty safe bet that not all these fine folks have had both of their shots, if any,” wrote another.
“Aren’t there supposed to be customer limits to ensure social distancing?” another tweeted.
A Kmart spokesperson told their team and customers are still adjusting to new processes and government requirements.
“For some of our stores this is our first day opening to customers in over 100 days and we are so pleased to welcome back so many of our New South Wales family on day one,” a spokesperson said.
“In many of our stores today there have been queues to enter and to check out, as our team and customers adjust to new processes and government requirements including checking vaccination status.
“Many of our stores are a large format and all have strict reduced capacity limits which have been adhered to today and we thank our customers for being patient with us and ask for their continued support in following safety guidelines in store including social distancing, using QR codes and wearing masks.”
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