Woman fined for not wearing mask in supermarket

An argumentative woman who did not show up to her own trial has been found guilty of refusing to wear a mask.

Nora Mary Bishop (36) chose to represent herself but lost that opportunity when she did not appear in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

The purpose of the justice of peace judge-alone trial was so she could defend the charge of breaching the Covid-19 Public Health Response 2021, as she had refused to wear a mask in the Andersons Bay Countdown last year during Level 4.

The trial proceeded without her and the police presented two witnesses.

The first was Allied Security security guard Ewan Robertson, who dealt with Bishop at the time.

Mr Robertson testified it was a busy day on August 22, with a queue of people waiting to get into Countdown.

When Bishop came up to enter the store, he asked her if she had a mask to which she replied in the negative.

She did not scan or sign in either.

‘‘I asked her again, I was polite, but she started abusing me,’’ Mr Robertson said.

Eventually, he had to just let her go in and reported the incident to Countdown staff.

When she came out with her groceries and left, Mr Robertson wrote down her car registration.

On August 23, Constable Liam Cook visited her residence in Musselburgh with another officer.

Const Cook testified that if she had admitted the offence and showed insight, a warning would be sufficient, but that did not happen.

Instead she was ‘‘immediately argumentative’’, yelling out of her front window instead of opening the door.

They tried to explain why they were there and the importance of mask-wearing but Bishop replied that Director-general of health ‘‘Ashley Bloomfield had said we did not need to wear

masks and she had not committed an offence’’.

She was referring to a quote on January 28, 2020, which she brought up repeatedly at her last appearance, last month.

Dr Bloomfield had said, ‘‘you can use a face mask if you like but it is not really any protection’’.

However, as justice of the peace Shirley Woodrow said then, knowledge had since changed and safety measures to protect the public from Covid-19 had as well.

The police officer decided to leave after Bishop had become ‘‘increasingly aggravated,’’ telling her she would be receiving an infringement notice.

Although Bishop had claimed in her last appearance she wanted to subpoena Dr Bloomfield, and challenge the Covid-19 Public Health Act’s from 2020 and 2021, her non-appearance meant the case was open and shut.

Ms Woodrow and fellow JP Kevin Tansley said the ‘‘elements of person, time, and place [were] not in dispute’’ and the case was proven.

Bishop was fined $200 and ordered to pay court costs of $130.