National MP: Social distancing rules from 'St Jacinda' are rubbish

National MP Matt King - third from left - with parents Joe and Jen and staff of Paihia's Green...
National MP Matt King - third from left - with parents Joe and Jen and staff of Paihia's Green restaurant. Photo: Supplied
A National Party MP posed for a close photograph with family and restaurant staff just days after level 2 Covid-19 restrictions began, then told those who challenged him: "I'm over the BS coming out of this Government."

Northland MP Matt King doubled down on his online statements when contacted, telling the Herald: "The social distancing - I think it's just rubbish now. We should be back to normal, people doing their thing, now."

King's photograph drew heat on Facebook after he posted the image of himself with parents Joe and Jen - who are part of his bubble - out celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary at Green restaurant in Paihia over the weekend.

It drew an immediate response from one person who congratulated King's parents on their anniversary but asked: "Shame you don't keep to the rules, or is your photo op more important than the one or two metre rules."

King told the Herald the food at Green - which serves Indian and Thai cuisine on Paihia's waterfront - was great and the service tremendous.

"The guy serving us was the guy standing next to me," he said.

The Ministry of Health advice is restaurants "have customers seated" and "keep groups of attendees separated one metre apart".

The Restaurant Association of NZ advises members to "ensure that all people who enter the workplace or use its services remain two metres away from each other and from staff".

When challenged over clustering for a photograph, King said: "We're both adults. He chose to stand with me. Sometimes a little bit of life experience and logical thought and grown up thinking about things … I just think the social distancing stuff at the stage we are at now is over the top.

"We haven't had any new cases in Northland for a month. I'm just using my brain as an adult and he was too. We're not Nazi Germany."

In a separate post, King's support for changing funeral rules also drew a sharp response. He told one: "You are blind at the altar of St Jacinda."

King told the Herald "some decisions made lack logic and compassion", highlighting the case of the woman who travelled from Australia to see her dying mother but wound up in quarantine.

As for his comments on Ardern, he said: "Some people make comments as if she can do no wrong." He said there were some who seemed to believe that questioning the Prime Minister was almost treasonous.

Restaurant manager Amardeep Singh said he and others had posed with King because the MP had asked for a photograph to record the occasion.

"We are doing social distancing. We are doing sanitising and taking contact details."

King has volunteered during the lockdown, delivering food parcels to vulnerable people in his local community.

He has also been vocal on the issue of roadblocks across the North, which saw - in some places - local, remote communities particularly affected by the 1918 flu epidemic control access to their villages.

A former police officer and small business owner, King entered politics at the last election after dramatically tipping NZ First leader Winston Peters out of the Northland electorate.

The Ministry of Health has been approached for comment.

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