David Clark, New Zealand's Health Minister, has been criticized for going for a mountain bike ride while the country is in lockdown. Clark had to apologise to Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister, after he was photographed at a riding location 2km from his house.
New Zealand is currently in a level-4 lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and citizens have been told that they may only exercise "locally and safely". On Thursday, a member of the public spotted Clark's van, which has his face and name on the side of it, at a car park next to the Signal Hill trails
. They took a photograph and passed it onto local media.
Clark confirmed in a statement he had gone mountain biking and that it was an action he regrets. He said: "This was my only chance to get out for some exercise in daylight hours ... The track itself is not challenging, and is widely used by families and foot traffic. I know that now is not the time for people to be engaging in higher-risk exercise activities. I don’t want to give anyone the perception that I take these matters lightly. This is a reminder to me to think carefully about how best to fit some exercise into my new-normal routine."
Clark has apologised to Jacinda Ardern, who said in a statement: "It’s my expectation that ministers set the standards we are asking New Zealanders to follow. People can go outside to get fresh air and drive short distances if needed, but we have asked people to avoid activities where there is a higher risk of injury, and the minister should have followed that guidance.”
While Clark is facing calls from the media that he should be fired
, no further action is expected to be taken.