In Australia, almost a quarter of the population of the state of Victoria believe the requirement to wear a face mask infringes on their personal freedom, while only half always wear one when shopping.
The alarming revelations come from an online poll of 239 Victorians commissioned by the union representing retail workers in the first four days after the mandatory mask order came into force last week.
The survey, conducted by Essential Research between July 23-26, revealed 22 per cent of Victorians believed being forced to wear a mask was an infringement on their personal liberty.
It also showed only 50 per cent always wore a face covering while shopping, which has prompted the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association to call for the greater enforcement of mask wearing for shoppers.
But despite the slow take up of shoppers donning masks, the survey showed 76 per cent of Victorians believed retailers had a right to demand customers wear one.
SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the poll results placed retail and supermarket workers, other shoppers and the community at risk.
"It demonstrates the extent of the challenge in protecting the health of the general community against the irresponsibility of the few," he said.
"The health and safety of retail workers as well as the general community should not be left to chance. It's time to step up the enforcement of compulsory wearing of face masks by shoppers in all of Melbourne's retail outlets."
Dwyer said the images from the weekend of a woman blatantly refusing to wear a mask at Bunnings and then bragging about it online showed the type of extreme abuse and disrespect that was experienced too often by retail workers across Australia.
"The bottom line is shoppers should not be allowed into stores without masks in Victoria," he said.
"The frontline workers that you see when you walk into a shop are just out there trying to do the best job they can."
Dwyer urged police to enforce the government's mandatory face-covering directions, especially in retail stores and shopping centres, and said it shouldn't be up to workers to enforce the law.
At least 70 people have been fined for failing to wear a face covering in public in Melbourne since the restriction was introduced on July 22.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said wearing a mask was not too much to ask of people.
"The nurse who will be treating you, or a loved one, they'll be wearing a mask, so you wear one to stop that nurse having to treat more people," he said.
Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent said they would not hesitate to fine people $200 who "obviously and blatantly" didn't wear a face covering.
Across the country the survey of 1058 respondents found 21 per cent believed it was an infringement on personal freedom to be forced to wear a mask, 32 per cent always wore one while shopping and 70 per cent believed retailers had a right to demand shoppers wear a face covering as a condition of entry.
About 70 per cent of Victorians surveyed said they were concerned about the risk of catching the virus while shopping.