An Australian woman refused to wear a mask at a hardware store in Melbourne, garnering criticism from social media users, healthcare officials, and legal experts. The woman was dubbed "Karen" by Twitter users after a video of her fallout with the store's employees went viral.
On Friday, the woman who was reportedly identified as Kerry Nash, went to Bunnings Warehouse – a household hardware chain – without wearing a mask and said that the store employees did not have the right to question her. She also claimed that it was "unlawful" and "discriminatory" of the employees to make her wear a mask.
"It is unlawful and it is discriminatory and it is illegal and I'm going to continue going in here and getting what I need because it is unlawful for you to do that," the woman is heard saying in the video. "It is my right as a human woman to do whatever I want"
Claims 'Breach of Charter of Human Rights'
At one point, the woman also said that the store asking her to cover her mouth and nose was in "breach of the 1948 charter of human rights." Another video showed her resisting arrest by Victoria police officer. According to reports, people living in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire area are legally bound to wear a mask when stepping out of home unless they have a medical reason.
The police later released her after she told them she did not wear a mask because of a medical condition. She had withheld this information from the store employees leading to the fiasco.
The incident attracted criticism against the woman from all sides. Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews called her behavior "appalling" and the reasons not to wear a mask during coronavirus pandemic had no scientific, legal, or factual standing.
Slamming Conspiracy Theorists
Andrews also blamed conspiracy theorists for fueling such behavior. "The thing with conspiracy theorists [is] the more you engage in an argument with them, the more oxygen you are giving them," Andrews said. "Ultimately, I think people can judge for themselves the efficacy, the credibility of people who are running those sort of keyboard warrior campaigns."
Commenting on the woman's human rights argument, Andrews said: "Seriously, one more comment about human rights — honestly. It is about human life. If we continue with this stuff, standing in the car park of Bunnings reading whatever nonsense you have pulled up from some obscure website." Twitter users dubbed the woman "Bunnings Karen," which later began trending on the micro-blogging platform.