New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the demotion of Health Minister following a breach of nationwide lockdown order imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus. Ardern said that the minister, David Clark, had offered his resignation for flouting the social distancing rules to drive his family to a beach.
However, New Zealand PM was of the opinion that the sacking of the Health Minister could cause a massive disruption in the government’s response against the pandemic, which the country can not afford in the current situation. Ardern added that she would sack the minister under normal circumstances as there are no excuses for what he did.
“But he does need to pay a price. He broke the rules. While he maintains his Health portfolio, I am stripping him of his role as Associate Finance Minister and demoting him to the bottom of our Cabinet rankings,” said the Prime Minister in a statement.
New Zealand has also extended the state of national emergency for another seven days looking at the impending threat. Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare announced the declaration on April 7 saying it does not change the length of the Alert Level 4 lockdown.
The powers activated through the national emergency enable civil defence emergency management professionals to carry out critical work including managing roads, traffic and public places, providing first aid, food, shelter and accommodation.
“As we enter our third week under a State of National Emergency and at Alert Level 4, I would like to thank all New Zealanders who have continued to work tirelessly to support the response to COVID-19 through these incredibly challenging times,” said Henare in a statement.
The State of National Emergency and the COVID-19 Alert Levels are two distinct and separate entity. While the alert levels specify the range of measures the government is taking against COVID-19, national emergency provides special powers to people managing the response in an emergency.