New Zealand demoted its health minister after he took his family to the beach on the first weekend of the country's coronavirus lockdown

jkossoff@businessinsider.com (Julian Kossoff)
Dr. David Clark, New Zealand's health minister, breached his government's own coronavirus guidelines.

New Zealand Government

  • Dr. David Clark, New Zealand's health minster, has been demoted after he admitted taking his family on a beach trip on the first weekend of the country's coronavirus lockdown. 
  • It was the second time he had flouted his own government's social distancing advice. Last week, he was photographed riding his mountain bike when all New Zealanders were being encouraged to stay home.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the she would have sacked her minister for the lockdown abuse, but she needs him to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic threatening the country.
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New Zealand's health minister has been demoted after admitting that he took his family on a beach trip in the first weekend of the country's nationwide lockdown.

Dr. David Clark admitted driving his family to Doctor's Point beach, located 12 miles from his home in Dunedin, despite his government specifically stating at the time that cars should only be driven for essential trips to purchase food or medicine and confined to the local area.

New Zealand began its lockdown on March 25, meaning the beach trip likely took place around March 28 and 29.

"At a time when we are asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices I've let the team down. I've been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me," Clark said in a statement, as reported by The Guardian.

Last week Clark also apologized after being photographed riding his mountain bike, despite his government's imploring people to stay home.

Clark offered his resignation to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said she would have fired him in normal circumstances, but needs him now to help organize the country's coronavirus strategy. Instead of the sack, Ardern stripped Clark of an additional finance-minister portfolio, and demoted him in the cabinet rankings.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

CBS

"Under normal conditions, I would sack the minister of health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses," Ardern said in a statement.

"But right now, my priority is our 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."

"I expect better, and so does New Zealand," Ardern continued.

In Scotland, Dr. Catherine Calderwood, the country's chief medical officer, resigned on Sunday after being photographed strolling on a golf course with her family, and visiting her holiday home more than an hour's drive from her main residency in Edinburgh.

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