Health Minister flouts his lockdown advice by mountain biking

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Apr 2020, 11:06PM
Health Minister David Clark. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Health Minister David Clark. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Health Minister flouts his lockdown advice by mountain biking

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Apr 2020, 11:06PM

Health Minister David Clark has flouted the Government's advice to exercise locally after confirming he drove to a park to go mountain biking today.

Clark was nabbed after parking his signwritten van at the car park - 2.3km from his Dunedin home - and it was spotted by someone who dobbed him in to media.

A Toyota Hiace van, emblazoned with Clark's face, was snapped parked near Signal Hill Lookout earlier today.

Clark confirmed his jaunt, saying he went for a bike ride between video conference meetings this afternoon.

"As Health Minister I try to model healthy behaviour and this afternoon I decided to fit in bike ride between video-conference meetings.

"This was my only chance to get out for some exercise in daylight hours," he said.

However his boss Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly advised locked down Kiwis to stay local - and if they want to exercise to do so near their home.
• Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

The message has also been hammered home by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who has said that vehicles should only be used for grocery shopping or a medical trip.

The 6km mountain bike trail, dubbed "The Big Easy" was not challenging and was a popular local destination, Clark said.

"I know that now is not the time for people to be engaging in higher-risk exercise activities," he said.

Clark said the bike track was "not challenging" but in December 2018 a cyclist who suffered a shoulder injury in a fall had to be rescued by fire crews and ambulance staff. The cyclist had to be carried down to the car park on a stretcher.

In October last year a young mountain biker was injured during the national schools championships at Signal Hill. The teenager had to be flown to Christchurch Hospital.

"I don't want to give anyone the perception that I take these matters lightly," Clark said.

"This is a reminder to me to think carefully about how best to fit some exercise into my new-normal routine."

Clark's confession comes as Kiwis mark one week of the national lockdown, with restrictions imposed on everyday activities and the closure of all non-essential businesses.

Government officials continue to tell New Zealanders to "stay home, save lives" and to only leave the house for essential needs, such as going to the supermarket, doctor, pharmacy or gas station. You can leave your house to stretch your legs, but this should be local.

"Personal walks and other active travel like cycling or scootering is fine … stick to simple outdoor exercise and avoid areas where you can get injured or lost," the Covid-19 official website says.

The lockdown is in place for four weeks at least and means everyone must stay home and self-isolate - apart from people considered part of the "essential services central workforce".