Wellington, April 7 (IANS) New Zealand Health Minister David Clark on Tuesday apologized for breaching the country’s COVID-19 lockdown rules after he drove to a beach for a family outing and went to a public domain for a mountain bike ride.
The lockdown rules require New Zealanders to stay at home and to stay local when exercising, as the country entered a four-week lockdown or epidemic response Alert Level 4 on March 26, reports Xinhua news agency.
After Clark offered his resignation, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday that his Cabinet ranking was demoted and his associate finance portfolio was stripped.
“Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses,” Ardern said.
“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.”
Clark responded by saying that it was his responsibly to not only follow the rules but set an example to other New Zealanders as the Health Minister.
“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,” he said.
New Zealand has reported 1,160 coronavirus cases, with 1 death.