Sydneysiders have been praised for adjusting to the new rules around mandatory masks but retail workers claim they're still grappling with reluctant customers.

Masses of people strolled Bondi's main strip on Wednesday, with the majority wearing masks.

However staff at stores adjacent to the beach said many residents and visitors were not taking it seriously.

"A man came in without a mask and said COVID is a massive scam and was screaming saying I should take my mask off and that the government is trying to control us," General Pants Bondi store manager Trent Harris said.

"I think there are a decent number of people out there who think that."

He said one of his staff members was forced to ask a woman to leave the store after she entered without a mask and was coughing.

"She refused to wear one and was coughing … we asked her to wear one and she said no."

General Pants Bondi store manager Trent Harris and employee Harry Walker said people weren’t taking the mask mandate seriously.
General Pants Bondi store manager Trent Harris and employee Harry Walker said people weren’t taking the mask mandate seriously.

The new health order came into force on Monday, with people failing to wear a mask indoors subject to an on-the-spot $200 fine.

One worker at a small retail outlet directly opposite Bondi Beach, was not wearing a mask when approached by NCA NewsWire.

When asked why, he said he "forgot it" and that "less than half" the customers who step into his store aren't wearing one.

"I feel like I can't tell them to get out (if they're not wearing one)… I leave it to police," he said, before noting he would go to another store near by and purchase a new mask.

"Most people in Bondi don't care," he added.

"I don't like to wear one but I'll do what I have to do."

Sydney residents have largely been praised for wearing masks. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Sydney residents have largely been praised for wearing masks. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

The new regulations covering many indoor venues came into effect on Sunday however NSW Police only began issuing $200 on-the-spot fines for noncompliance on Monday.

Under the mandate, face masks are compulsory in all shopping centres, on public transport, at cinemas and theatres, places of worship, hair and beauty salons and for anyone visiting aged care facilities.

Ruby and Ella who also work at a retail store on Campbell Parade, but would prefer to have their surname's suppressed, said a woman entered the store on Tuesday and was told she would need to wear a mask.

"She said, 'no because I'm eating'," Ruby told NCA NewsWire.

Everyone in Woolworths Bondi was wearing a mask. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard
Everyone in Woolworths Bondi was wearing a mask. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

She said more and more people have been wearing them since Sunday but there were always those people who think they're untouchable.

But Ella said most people who entered the store had a mask with them but had simply forgotten to wear it.

"They always apologise and put it straight on or they go and purchase one from the chemist down the road," she said.

Earlier in the week acting NSW police commissioner Mal Lanyon praised Sydney residents for their "magnificent" take-up of masks.

Children younger than 12 are exempt from the mask mandate.

NSW recorded four new cases on Wednesday, including two directly linked to the Berala cluster.

Originally published as Shoppers 'refuse to wear masks': Retailers


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