A Country Where No One Is Above Social Distancing Rules — Not Even Its Prime Minister

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner were turned away from a café. Why? Because it had reached its customer limit under Jacinda's social distancing rules to contain COVID-19.

Cover image via Sky News

Imagine being the head of government of a country and going to a café with your partner only to be told that there is no space for you

That's exactly what happened with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her fiancé Clarke Gayford on Saturday, 16 May, when the two were turned away from Olive, a popular café in Wellington.

The café was too full under the coronavirus social distancing measures of the country and had to reject Jacinda and her partner, according to a diner, who spotted the couple being turned away.

While New Zealand has entered 'Alert 2' of its coronavirus action, allowing Kiwis to slowly return to everyday life, restaurants are required to maintain at least one-metre gap between seated groups.

Image via Olive/Facebook

The incident was confirmed by Jacinda's partner

Clarke said that he takes the blame for what happened as he had failed to make reservations.

He also acknowledged that when other diners left soon after, it was nice of the staff from the café to run down the street to invite the Prime Minister and him back.

Reacting to Clarke's response, a Twitter user joked that he had six weeks to organise this.

"She waits like everyone else"

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office said that waiting at a café is something that anyone can experience during New Zealand's coronavirus restrictions, according to a report in 1 News.

"The PM says she just waits like everyone else."

Meanwhile, The New Zealand Herald reported the café owner as confirming that "no exceptions were made for Ardern" and that she and her partner were initially turned away by the manager.

However, when a table became free, the manager then ran down the street — a courtesy — which the owner said, they extend to other customers as well.

"She had a lovely brunch and left half an hour later," the owner told the paper, adding that "she was lovely with all the staff" and that the Prime Minister was "treated like a normal customer".

The above diner, whose tweet has been picked up by several international media outlets that reported the story, noted that it's sad how "the bar is so low for world leaders that "common" courtesy is world news".

People praised the Prime Minister for sticking to the rules

Back in April, New Zealand's Health Minister was demoted after he ignored national lockdown rules and drove his family to a beach

He was demoted to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings and was also stripped off his associate Finance Minister portfolio after swift action taken by Prime Minister Jacinda, according to The Guardian.

Jacinda and Health Minister Dr David Clarke.

Image via The Guardian

It's a different story in Malaysia: