Hawke's Bay dairy workers have been racially abused and left feeling vulnerable and scared after enforcing new Covid-19 mask-wearing rules.
Frimley Four Square staff member Sarabjit Singh said he was racially abused for asking a customer to wear a mask on the first day of lockdown.
"People get aggressive. The first day I told a customer to wear a mask, and they said 'go back to your country and teach them to wear a mask'."
"We are providing masks for those who come in without one. The first two days of lockdown were bad with people not complying, but it's better now."
Brigitte Narayan, a staff member at Pirimai Plaza Dairy, told Hawke's Bay Today she wished there were security guards manning the door, just like the supermarkets.
"I have had half a dozen people who I turned away for not wearing a mask and they showed me a card, which looks legit, saying they were exempt from wearing one," Narayan said.
"I feel powerless. There isn't anything I can do apart from turn them away and they get aggressive. I wish we had security guards.
"I had one woman who got huffy and said 'what do I have to wear a mask for? You can't tell me what to do'.
"I have lots of people outside waiting without a mask, who I have to turn away. I feel like I am security, police, everything, all at once.
"We are the enforcers of the rules but it gets hard when we don't have help.
"I am a woman, and I work alone, and if the lockdown continues, things could get out of control. It could get violent."
On Monday, Frimley Four Square owner Saharan Kolkata said a few customers were going to the dairy without a mask, but they were turned away without exception if they didn't get one to wear or buy one.
"We have had five to six we have turned away today. They are the rules."
Jill Road Dairy owner Jarna il Singh echoed the sentiment but said generally people were good at wearing a mask.
"It's not just our safety, it's their safety too."
A Dannevirke shop owner said some shoppers had been abusive when asked to wear a mask in store but most were generally pretty good.
Hern Shiroya, of Hi-Way Dairy, said a couple of people had got abusive over the weekend, but he hadn't noticed anything of a racist nature.
He said they were mostly just rude, and swore when asked to wear a mask.
"We just requested they wear one. It's not like we said we wouldn't serve them if they didn't."
The shop did have a supply of masks they could give to shoppers but had run out.
Shiroya said some people didn't understand. This was despite the fact that such protocols had been recommended by the Government.
Sunny Kaushal, chair of the Dairy and Business Owners Group, said nearly one in five Kiwis shopped at dairies and during lockdowns that spiked because it prevented unnecessary trips and queues at supermarkets.
Kaushal said it was not just unruly customers causing problems.
"We have written to the Prime Minister and Minister of Health asking for vaccination priority," Kaushal said.
"We have had no contact aside from the usual acknowledgement despite dairies and independent service stations being key workers."
He said the Government should work with GPs and pharmacies who are trained vaccinators to vaccinate essential workers locally.
"Another is a Uber-like booking system for 'mobile vaccinators' to come to those key workers who can't get away but in a planned orderly way."
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said where possible, essential services operating under Alert Level 4 will be encouraging visitors to their premises to wear a face covering.
"But they are not expected to assume the roles of enforcement officer."