Kate Hawkesby: Why isn't the PM social distancing?

Author
NewstalkZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 21 Sep 2020, 1:07PM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posing for selfies with fans during her walkabout in Palmerston North. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posing for selfies with fans during her walkabout in Palmerston North. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Kate Hawkesby: Why isn't the PM social distancing?

Author
NewstalkZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 21 Sep 2020, 1:07PM

Today the rest of the country will most likely get to Level 1. Aucklanders, not so much.

Our restrictions are likely to remain in place, which is annoying for Aucklanders but also problematic for campaigning politicians.

They'll be hoping Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extends gathering sizes as promised, so they can mingle in bigger crowds.

But will that include easing restrictions on social distancing?

Because here's the thing, the Prime Minister herself doesn't seem to want to abide that rule.

Her large group selfie on the streets of Palmerston North the other day, crowded in a bunch of not at all socially distant fans, smacked of hypocrisy. One rule for us, one for her.

Act's David Seymour said, "while hospitality businesses were going broke at alert level 2 because of single server and social distancing rules, the person responsible for the rules was self serving and breaking them".

The response from her office? Basically that she's just so popular, it's impossible to keep people away from her.

"There are a number of handshakes and hugs she unfortunately has to decline, but often members of the public will come very close to the Prime Minister which is difficult to control," her office said.

Is it? Surely that's the singular most important job of her security detail right now, during, as she keeps reminding us, "a serious global pandemic".

Actually, not even in a pandemic but just in crowds generally, is it not her very large entourage's job to keep people at bay and away from getting too close to her?

It just doesn't wash with what she's expecting of others. My local café was popular too, it was hard for them to keep crowds down to the required minimum to meet level restrictions, but up until they closed down last week, they did do that. Because they had to. Because those were the rules. Even if it sent them under.

So why is the PM not subject to the same standards? If it's okay to relax the rules for her, then why are we still in Level 2? Why do the rules exist? Why are businesses suffering from the onerous restrictions, if they're not taken seriously from the top?

The PM's office said "it's not always possible" for people to practice social distancing.

Well it's not always possible to stay in business when you have to follow strict Covid rules too, but those are the rules.

Why have rules, if the person making them doesn't even take them seriously?

 

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