New Zealand’s Prime Minister has apologized for taking a selfie without a mask on, calling it a “mistake.”
“In that particular photo I made a mistake,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference Monday, according to the New Zealand Herald. “Yes I should have moved further forwards and I should have asked them to step apart as well.”
“It is hard,” she added. “I will keep up, as I have, those awkward moments where I refuse to shake hands.” (RELATED: Four New COVID-19 Cases Hurl New Zealand Into Renewed Country-Wide Lockdown)
In the photo, Arden was pictured with a group of supporters. Nobody in the photo was wearing a mask or social distancing.
David Seymour, leader of the political party ACT New Zealand, criticized Arden for the photo, saying that she “clearly flouted the rules she has asked us to live by,” according to the report.
“Hospitality businesses are going broke at alert level 2 because of a single server and social distance rules,” he said on Twitter. “Meanwhile, the person responsible for the rules is breaking them – small business owners will be angry.”
Hospitality businesses can’t make money at Level 2 because of single server and social distancing rules. Meanwhile, the person responsible for the rules is self-serving and not social distancing. pic.twitter.com/4HUMKJNkU4
— David Seymour (@dbseymour) September 18, 2020
Judith Collins, leader of New Zealand’s National Party, said that she “was staggered to see the Prime Minister clearly not socially distancing with no mask just the other day in Palmerston North in a level 2 lockdown.”
The l0ckdown rules limit gatherings to 100 people, and while they don’t require masks, they are recommended. Arden has emphasized the need for both mask-wearing and social distancing, the New Zealand Herald reported. In August she delayed the election, which was previously scheduled for September 17, by 4 weeks due to the pandemic.
“I would have thought most people would have thought that” the photo was hypocritical, Collins said, according to the report. “They will see it for what it is.”
“People aren’t stupid, you know,” she continued. “The public will make their own minds up about who’s hypocritical.”