Call it a slip of the tongue.
New Zealand’s COVID-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, put his foot in his mouth during a press conference on Sunday, telling citizens of the country to social distance when they go outside and “spread their legs” amid the pandemic.
“It is a challenge for people in high-density areas to get outside and spread their legs when they are surrounded by other people,” he said.
His sexually suggestive gaffe raised the eyebrows of New Zealand’s director general of health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, who was standing next to Hipkins during the briefing. Hipkins’ face appeared to turn pink upon the realization that he had misspoken.
Later on, Hipkins chuckled and said he would go and “stretch his legs” — the phrase he actually meant to say — and added that he knew the media “would all have fun with him later.”
Indeed, the citizens of New Zealand poked fun at the minister on social media, and the hashtag “#spreadyourlegs” was trending on Twitter following the conference.
— Phid McAwesome (@PhidMcAwesome) August 22, 2021
— sean murphy (@at0nal) August 22, 2021
As a country we are never going to be able to take the phrase "super spreader" seriously ever again, are we? #spreadyourlegs
— K R Kelly (@keiyarkelly) August 22, 2021
— Maxine Vandate (@annaksutherland) August 23, 2021
— Scottie – Im Fully Vaxed (@Scotty_Lockdown) August 22, 2021
Just out here listening to my government pic.twitter.com/jhdaNF5B77
— art heaux (@patityrell) August 22, 2021
Someone even trolled the government with a tongue-in-cheek proposed campaign:
— Caryn 🌻 (@CarynDoesntCare) August 22, 2021
The minister’s gaffe was reminiscent of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s own COVID-19 gaffe in April 2020: “Speaking moistly.”
Despite the levity, New Zealand is currently in a nationwide lockdown following an outbreak of the Delta variant. The country has had 26 deaths due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began in 2020.
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