New Zealand PM Demotes Health Minister Who Called Himself an Idiot

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s health minister has described himself as an “idiot” and has been stripped of some responsibilities after breaching the country’s strict lockdown measures.

David Clark drove about 12 miles to a beach to take a walk with his family. He said that at a time when the government was asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices by staying at home, he let them down.

“I’ve been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me,” he said in a statement.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would have sacked her Health Minister David Clark for breaking quarantine, but did not want to disrupt the ministry. (AP file photo/Sam James)

Clark acknowledged driving to a park near his home to go mountain biking.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said under normal circumstances, she would sack Clark. But she said the country couldn’t afford massive disruption in its health sector while it was fighting the virus. Instead, she said, she was stripping Clark of his role as associate finance minister and demoting him to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings.

New Zealand is nearly halfway through a planned four-week lockdown.

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