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NZ Health Minister David Clark demoted after driving 20kms to beach during lockdown

Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

NZ Health Minister David Clark demoted after driving 20kms to beach during lockdown

David Clark offered his resignation and has been demoted following the disclosure of his lockdown breaches.

NZ Health Minister David Clark demoted after driving 20kms to beach during lockdown

New Zealand Health Minister David Clark has been demoted after it was revealed he drove his family 20km from his house in Dunedin to Doctor’s Point Beach beach to go for a walk during the first weekend of lockdown. 

Clark has been stripped of his role as Associate Finance Minister and has been demoted to the bottom of Labour’s Cabinet rankings.

The denouncement comes after last week’s furore when it was disclosed that Clark drove 2km to go mountain bike riding.

In a statement this morning, David Clark said: “At a time when we are asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices I’ve let the team down. I’ve been an idiot.

“As the Health Minister, it’s my responsibly to not only follow the rules but set an example to other New Zealanders.

“This trip was a clear breach of the lockdown principles of staying local and not driving long distances to reach recreation spots,” the statement said. 

Clark offered his apologies and his resignation within the statement. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said under normal conditions she would sack him but right now, her priority is the collective fight against COVID-19.

“We cannot afford massive disruption in the health sector or to our response. For that reason, and that reason alone, Dr Clark will maintain his role,” she said. 

“But he does need to pay a price. He broke the rules. 

“I expect better, and so does New Zealand,” Jacinda Ardern said. 

EXERCISING DURING LOCKDOWN IN NZ: THE DOS & DONTS 

While there has been some confusion around what Kiwis can and can’t do when it comes to exercising during lockdown, the government has issued guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed.

According to the government’s COVID-19 website walking and other activities – for example, cycling and scootering – are fine as long as you keep a 2-metre distance between anyone who is not in your bubble.

Water-based activities – for example, swimming, surfing and boating – are to be avoided as are tramping and hunting.

The New Zealand government has also asked Kiwis to stay close to home and enjoy their neighbourhood. If you live in close proximity to a beach, it is fine to walk down to the waterfront, but driving to the beach is not allowed. Dog owners have also been told to walk their pets around the block rather than driving to parks to exercise them. 

For further information on New Zealand’s lockdown rules visit covid19.govt.nz.

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