A woman dubbed ‘Bunnings Karen’ after berating staff at the hardware chain when asked to wear a mask has been identified as sales consultant Kerry Nash.
Ms Nash went viral after filming her shocking outburst inside a Bunnings store in the Melbourne suburb of Narre Warren on Friday.
She accused staff at the store of abusing her human rights by politely asking her to wear a mask, and was briefly arrested after clashing with police outside.
Ms Nash was later released by officers after revealing she had a medical exemption, which she had initially chosen not to present to staff.
A woman dubbed ‘Bunnings Karen’ after filming herself berating staff at the hardware chain after she was asked to wear a mask has been identified as Kerry Nash (pictured)
Her former employer, insurance company iSelect, released a statement condemning the behaviour after Ms Nash was identified over Twitter on Monday.
‘Kerry Nash has not worked for iSelect since December 2018,’ an iSelect spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Like most Australians, iSelect was appalled by ‘Bunnings Karen’s’ blatant refusal to wear a mask without a legitimate reason.’
‘iSelect supports, and is fully compliant with, all COVID health guidelines and restrictions. Any staff unable to work from home must wear a mask when in our Cheltenham head office, in accordance with DHHS guidelines.’
According to Ms Nash’s Linkedin page, she was employed as a Senior Sales Consultant by the company in 2012 and prides herself on her ‘customer service’.
It is unclear where Ms Nash is now employed.
Her behaviour sparked widespread criticism online, with many outraged by her attitude towards the workers, police, and the COVID-19 regulation.
But despite the backlash, Ms Nash continued her anti-mask crusade, with another video surfacing two days later of her ranting at a mask-wearing Australia Post worker.
Another video posted on Facebook shows ‘Bunnings Karen’ later arrested by two police officers outside in the Lauderdale Road car park
Ms Nash was removed from handcuffs after presenting a medical exemption, but then began debating with officers (pictured) about how the arrest was ‘unlawful’
The video of the Ms Nash extraordinary rant inside a Bunnings store was posted to Facebook on Sunday as Victoria recorded 459 new coronavirus cases and ten deaths.
What is a ‘Karen’?
A ‘Karen’ is a newly-emerged term for a self-righteous woman, usually middle-aged, who tells people how to do their jobs, asserts their rights and complains to the manager.
The origins of the term are unclear, however it quickly became popular in meme culture on internet forums such as Reddit to describe problematic women.
A Karen meme is often combined with the quote: ‘Can I speak to the manager?’
It is also associated with anti-vaccination activists who favour unproven essential oils to medical science.
The ‘Karen’ was also associated with a side-swept bob haircut that is long at the front and short at the back.
‘It’s a breach of the charter of human rights,’ she said as she aggressively filmed the staff on her mobile phone and threatened to sue them for discrimination.
Ms Nash filmed staff during the dispute and refused to stop despite the calm requests of a male employee.
Other videos posted on Facebook show her later being arrested by two police officers outside in the Lauderdale Road car park.
She eventually revealed she had a medical exemption for not wearing a mask after a drawn-out standoff with police.
When more officers arrived at the scene, Ms Nash had her handcuffs taken off but launched into a debate with officers as to why her arrest was unlawful.
She claimed legislation in place allowing police to arrest her was not voted upon by Australians or approved by the monarch.
‘You’re talking about legislation that hasn’t been presented to parliament three times, we the people haven’t given our consent to act under it, and it hasn’t been consented by the queen,’ she said.
‘That legislation is fraudulent. It doesn’t apply to me.’
Growing impatient, the sergeant said he was not going to argue over her ‘opinion’ about the law.
‘That’s your personal belief, but that is not the law we work under,’ he said.
‘I am not going enter into an argument about what you believe the law is. That is a conversation between you and the judicial system.’
The anti-mask ‘Karen’ berated the Australia Post worker (pictured) as he quietly served her
Bunnings Chief Operating Officer Deb Poole told 7 News her actions were ‘completely unacceptable’.
‘The customer’s behaviour towards our team was completely unacceptable and we’re proud of the way our team calmly and professionally handled the situation,’ she said.
Ms Nash highlights her strong ‘customer service skills’ in her Linkedin profile (pictured)
‘The vast majority of customers visiting our Melbourne stores are doing the right thing and wearing a mask, which is required under the law and our conditions of entry.’
On Sunday, another video surfaced online of the same woman raving at a post office worker about her rights.
‘I do not need a mask. If you could stamp that, it would be wonderful,’ the woman says as she approaches the Australia Post counter, her mobile phone camera already recording the startled employee.
Ms Nash then berates the staff member, telling him he has no authority to ask her to wear a face mask while he quietly serves her.
‘I suggest you update yourself on what the Department of Human Services have put on with regards to masks and who needs to wear them,’ she says sternly.
‘And who also has the authorisation to actually ask for that evidence? Because it’s not you. Thank you.’
A new law mandating the compulsory wearing of face masks in Melbourne came into effect on Thursday as Victoria battles to control an outbreak of coronavirus.
Wearing a face mask is a health issue, not a human rights issue: Daniel Andrews
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has slammed ‘selfish’ mask dodgers.
He told reporters on Sunday that wearing face masks is not a human rights issue and that lives were at stake.
The Victorian Government has mandated public face masks in an attempt to bring the devastating outbreak under control.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has mandated mask wearing to help get Victoria’s spiraling case numbers under control, and to save lives
Police have the right to fine people in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire $200 for refusing to wear a mask.
‘If those directions are not followed, police are able to fine you. It is a $200 fine. It should never come to that,’ Premier Andrews said.
‘If it was a genuine error, a sense of any confusion — police use good judgement.
‘But if you are just making a selfish choice that your alleged personal liberty, quoting some, I don’t know, something you’ve read on some website — this is not about human rights.
‘There are 10 families that are going to be burying someone in the next few days.
‘Wear a mask — it’s not too much to ask.’
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth also slammed those refusing to wear a face mask.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth urged people to mask up
Dr Coatsworth compared ‘Bunnings Karen’ to those who threaten health workers in hospitals.
‘That sort of behaviour has to stop. I acknowledge that wearing a mask can be difficult,’ Dr Coatsworth said.
Dr Coatsworth said wearing a mask is like the ‘icing on the cake’ to cut the transmission rate down, along with social distancing, hand hygiene and staying home.
Premier Andrews praised the number of people doing the right thing by wearing masks, including in regional Victoria where it is not yet compulsory.
Roughly one third of coronavirus cases are in young people aged under 30, ABC news reported.
VICTORIAN HEALTH CARE WORKERS SICK
Victoria now has 381 health care workers with active coronavirus infections, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Sunday.
Premier Andrews said this puts a strain on the hospital system, however there is a plan to make up the shortfall with:
– 200 off-roster paramedics and third-year students doing contact tracing
– 20 Defence Force personnel working with Ambulance Victoria paramedics, increasing to 150 over the next 10 days
– 4000 current and retired midwives have volunteered to help
– 800 extra health professionals have been deployed
Police have the power to issue $200 on the spot fines for anyone who breaches the new rules.
Face masks help to cut the transmission of coronavirus by catching droplets of saliva at the mouth and nose, and they can also help stop people from becoming infected from the aerosolised droplet of others.
Insurance company iSelect released a statement on Monday after their former employer Kerry Nash was identified as ‘Bunnings Karen’
Until June (when this advice was pictured), Australia’s Health Department only recommended face mask use for people who knew they were sick or had symptoms
Medical research published in the medical journal The Lancet last month found face masks were 77 per cent effective at stopping infection, while respirators were 96 per cent effective.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 14,403
New South Wales: 3,668
Western Australia: 658
South Australia: 447
Australian Capital Territory: 113
Northern Territory: 31
TOTAL CASES: 14,403
CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 4399
‘When you are out and about, you cannot tell who is infected and who is not,’ said Professor Raina Macintyre, the head of the biosecurity research program at the University of NSW’s Kirby Institute said at the time.
‘You yourself may be infected and not know it. Especially with the growing evidence of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, universal face mask use is an important way to reduce the spread of infection.’
The study, called Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis, was a review of 216 coronavirus studies commissioned by the World Health Organisation.
Rick Sarre, the Adjunct Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at the University of South Australia, says Australian businesses have the right to require customers to wear face masks.
‘Australian law, quite simply, says that private landowners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property,’ he wrote in The Conversation.
‘So it would be legal for businesses – including cafes and supermarkets – to make it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands.’