A pilot was gobsmacked to learn his local barbershop would not cut his hair yesterday because he had recently been overseas amid coronavirus fears.

On entry, an employee at Barber Shop Company Milford said it was company policy not to serve anyone who had been overseas recently.

The pilot, who asked not to be named, had been to Samoa and argued that country had not even had a confirmed case of coronavirus while New Zealand did - but had no luck.

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"It certainly wasn't the worker's fault, she just said it was company policy and they didn't have any say in it," the man said.

"It was weird that they'd say that now that we've got known cases in New Zealand … I just thought, 'okay, you won't see my business again'."

Barber Shop Company chief executive Adam Johanson admitted fault following the refusal and said there appeared to be a problem with staff training.

Following advice from the Ministry of Health, the company had decided not to serve anyone who had been to Iran, China or Italy recently.

"We've already issued training to our staff, and we think that because some people are a little bit nervous, we haven't delivered the training effectively," he said.

"We're re-delivering it again today for anyone starting their next shift so they're crystal clear on what those policies are."

Johansen said he was sorry for the misunderstanding and apologised to the man for the mistake made yesterday.

"In this case, it sounds like an error on our behalf," he said. "I apologise for that and I'd love to extend my apologies to the complainant."


Being a pilot, the man was required by his employer to have a tidy haircut and would get one every two months or so.

He would always go to the barbershop in Milford where he was turned away, explaining he was "pretty much a regular".

While there had been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Samoa, there had been five in New Zealand.

Today marked the fourth day in a row no new cases had been announced, with all five confirmed cases now being cared for at home.

"[My partner and I] were disgusted - It's almost a level of discrimination," the pilot said.

"I'd understand it if [people had been to] countries that had been infected with cases."

This morning, the man went to a barber in Takapuna and got a haircut there with no questions asked.