Harvey Norman apologises after backlash to 'racist' coronavirus sign

Harvey Norman has apologised after a handwritten sign linking the coronavirus to products made outside Australia was displayed outside their Albury franchise.

The sign was posted outside the Albury Harvey Norman store.

The sign was posted outside the Albury Harvey Norman store. Source: Twitter

A Harvey Norman store in regional New South Wales has been criticised for putting out a sign claiming its mattresses are free from the coronavirus because they are Australian-made.

The handwritten sign was placed outside Harvey Norman's Albury store on Saturday and read: "No coronavirus in our mattresses, as ours are Australian made". 

A photo of the sign was posted to Twitter, leading social media users to label it "racist" and point out that there is no evidence you can contract coronavirus from inanimate objects. 

Shortly after the photo was posted, Harvey Norman's head office moved to distance themselves from the sign, stating the Albury franchisee had "acted in isolation without any consultation or communication beyond their store".

"As soon as the company was made aware, the sign was immediately removed and the franchisee told this was unacceptable," a statement posted to Twitter read.

The company did not indicate whether the franchise would face disciplinary action. 

Staff at the Albury location refused to comment on the incident, referring questions to Harvey Norman's head office.

Social media users have called on the franchisee to publicly apologise for the sign, with some calling for a boycott.

The sign follows in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which has so far killed more than 600 people and infected 31,000.

Fifteen people have so far been diagnosed with the coronavirus in Australia, as hundreds of Australian citizens and permanent residents evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan remain in quarantine on Christmas Island. 

2 min read
Published 8 February 2020 at 4:08pm
By Maani Truu
Source: SBS News