New Delhi: Taking stern action against the country’s Health Minister, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern demoted David Clark after he admitted to violating the country’s strict lockdown rules, effected to contain the coronavirus pandemic, by driving 20 kilometres with his family to a beach for a walk. Also Read - New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Lists 2 Years Of Achievements In 2 Minutes, Video Goes Viral | Watch
The minister committed the said ‘offence’ on the first weekend after the island nation, on March 25, entered its highest state of lockdown, level four, when he drove his family from their home in Dunedin to Doctor’s Point beach. Also Read - Christchurch Attack: UAE Thanks New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern For Support to Muslims, Projects Her Picture on Burj Khalifa
However, this was not the first time he had violated the lockdown rules; just last week, he went mountain biking as well. In fact, he informed the Prime Minister of the first violation only after the second one came to light and triggered massive outrage across the country. Also Read - New Zealand Mosque Shooting: PM Jacinda Ardern Received Gunman's 'Manifesto' Nine Minutes Before Attack
Following this, Clark was not only demoted in the cabinet rankings, but also stripped of his secondary role as an associate finance minister.
Reacting to his actions, he called himself an ‘idiot’ and said that he had offered to resign from his position. Admitting that as the Health Minister, he’s responsible not only to follow the rules but set an example of others, he stated that he realises ‘why people will be angry with me.’
Ardern, meanwhile, in a statement, said that she, as well as the entire New Zealand, expected better from Clark.
“Under normal circumstances, he’d be sacked. But cannot afford massive disruption in our health sector or to our response,” she added.
“For that reason and that reason alone, he’ll maintain his position,” Ardern explained.
New Zealand has thus far recorded nearly 1,200 positive cases of COVID-19, including one death.