A woman dubbed ‘Bunnings Karen’ after berating staff at the hardware store over its face mask policy appears to have struck again, this time lecturing an Australia Post worker in another tirade caught on camera.
The ‘Karen’ who went viral after her shocking outburst at Bunnings in the Melbourne suburb of Narre Warren on Friday is believed to be the same woman behind the camera in a video uploaded to Twitter on Sunday.
‘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.
The anti-mask ‘Karen’ berated the Australia Post worker (pictured) as he quietly served her
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.
The woman 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, loudly.
‘And who also has the authorisation to actually ask for that evidence – because it’s not you. Thank you.’
Bunnings ‘Karen’ and the woman at Australia Post sound identical and use similar language about their rights and the lack of authority of the people they are challenging.
Hundreds of commentators on social media are convinced it is the same woman in the two videos.
Video of Bunnings ‘Karen’s’ extraordinary rant was posted to Facebook on Sunday as Victoria recorded 459 new coronavirus cases and ten deaths.
‘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.
The woman filmed staff during the dispute and refused to stop despite the calm requests of a male employee.
Other videos posted on Facebook show the woman later being arrested by two police officers outside in the Lauderdale Road car park.
Australia Post Karen is believed to be the same woman who berated Bunnings Narre Warren staff (pictured) after being asked to wear a face mask
Victoria’s total coronavirus cases showing the number of new cases per day, as of Sunday
It is not known whether ‘Bunnings Karen’ is also behind an astonishing confrontation with police uploaded to social media on Saturday where a woman threatened to personally sue two Victorian officers for $60,000 each after they arrested her when she refused to tell them her name.
She started filming the incident after police approached her and her male friend and asked why they weren’t wearing masks.
The officers are heard patiently telling the pair that it is now illegal to be outside without a face covering in the Victorian capital.
The woman launches into a rant lasting several minutes in which she berates police while yelling ‘I do not consent’ when they try to issue her with a $200 fine.
In a video posted to Facebook on Saturday, an irate woman told Victoria Police she would sue them for ‘armed kidnapping’ if they arrested her after she refused to give her name
She demands the names of the two officers – Senior Constable Phil Gibby and Constable Jared Cavanagh – who appear shocked by her aggressive behaviour.
The officers say she will have to come to the station to be identified if she refuses to give her name.
‘We don’t consent and if you do arrest us we will be suing you for armed kidnapping,’ she said.
Victoria Police would not confirm or deny if the same ‘Karen’ is responsible for all three confrontations when approached by Daily Mail Australia.
‘We are aware of a number of videos circulating, however we will not be publicly commenting on the specifics of every individual infringement,’ a Victoria Police spokesman said on Sunday night.
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 told reporters.
‘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 told reporters on Sunday.
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
Another video posted on Facebook shows ‘Bunnings Karen’ later arrested by two police officers outside in the Lauderdale Road car park
VICTORIA’S COVID-19 NUMBERS FOR JULY 26
* 459 new cases, and the 21st consecutive day of a triple-digit increase, taking active cases across the state to 4233.
* Ten more deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 71 and the national figure to 155.
* Their ages range from a man in his 40s to men and women in their 80s.
* Seven of the deaths have been linked to aged care outbreaks.
* 560 active cases in aged care centres.
* 381 active cases among health care workers.
* 228 people in hospital and with 42 in intensive care.
* 42,973 tests conducted on Saturday.
A new law mandating the compulsory wearing of face masks in Melbourne came into effect on Thursday as Victoria battles to control a worsening outbreak of coronavirus.
Police have the power to issue $200 on the spot fines for anyone who breaches the new rules.
The videos are the latest confrontation between citizens and police over COVID-19 restrictions.
On Thursday a Melbourne man filmed a 22-minute argument with police after refusing to wear a face mask in public.
Another woman, Eve Black from Melbourne, shared social media footage of herself driving past an officer at a coronavirus police barricade.
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.
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.
‘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.
The woman was removed from handcuffs after presenting a medical exemption, but then began debating with officers (pictured) about how the arrest was ‘unlawful’
Eve Black, from Melbourne, shared footage on Thursday of herself driving past an officer at a COVID-19 police barricade
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.
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
‘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.’
As early as March, Australia’s medical experts were bewildered by the Australian health authorities’ anti-mask stance.
Australia’s federal Health Department discouraged public face mask wearing for people without symptoms from March until June, despite mounting evidence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.
Scientists firmly established that coronavirus was spread by asymptomatic people, and that masks reduce transmission by providing a barrier to droplets, but by the end of April, the Health Department along with peak doctors’ association the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners were still discouraging mask use.
In June, the Health Department advised: ‘There is little evidence supporting the widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people to prevent transmission in public.’
A shortage of face masks at the start of the pandemic was part of the reason masks were discouraged, despite their usefulness in stopping droplet transmission.
Daily Mail Australia has asked the federal Health Department for a response on how it plans to walk back this initial advice which may now be hampering Victoria’s efforts to get people to wear masks.
Worldwide, coronavirus cases passed 16.2 million on Sunday with 649,136 dead, 9.9 million recovered and 5.6 million still sick according to Worldometers.com statistics.
The USA still has the most cases overall at 4.3 million followed by Brazil at 2.4 million and India at 1.4 million.
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