Covid restriction zealot and Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern is being called a hypocrite after she appeared maskless in a crowd of over 100 people.
A photo from Tuesday shows Ardern at the front of a crowd of kids and students for a Youth Parliament event. Not a single person in the photograph is wearing a mask.
“Every few years, politicians in New Zealand are replaced by young people,” wrote Ardern.
“It’s called Youth Parliament and involves everything that parliament usually entails – select committees, question time, press conferences and a general debate – except with young people taking over our roles.”
“It’s such a fantastic programme and always leaves me with great hope. Not because these are our ‘leaders of tomorrow,’ but because these young people are already out there being leaders in their own right now,” she continued. “So thanks, Youth Parliament 2022, for letting me be a part of your day today.”
Only days before the event, the New Zealand government urged its citizens to don masks to combat COVID-19.
Otego University epidemiology professor accused Ardern of “not leading by example” for violating her own government’s advice.
“There is an added responsibility for our leaders to wear masks when being photographed or in public settings to lead by example. This was a missed opportunity to normalize mask use,” said Maker.
According to a government spokesperson, people in the photo had removed their masks only temporarily for the photo.
The government announced a new initiative last week to give New Zealanders free medical masks and antigen tests for at-home use.
Pandemic response minister Ayesha Verrall called the masks and tests “the most effective measures we have. They are simple, but if we all do them, we can lessen our illness.”
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization also urged countries to prepare for a new wave and to implement further mask mandates.