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Critics have lashed out at New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over a small detail in a group photo.
On Tuesday, 120 Youth MPs joined Ms Ardern in Wellington's Beehive building where the group smiled for a photo on the steps of the foyer.
However, people were quick to call out the PM and the youth MPs over their lack of masks, with everyone – bar one participant – maskless.
"Why no masks?" one person asked on Ms Ardern's Instagram post. Another person remarked there would be more people in the photo than there would be at a supermarket.
"No masks, no social distancing — not a care in the world," another person said.
The photo is arguably a breach of parliament's Covid rules, which state "masks must always be worn when moving around precinct".
The face masks were removed for the group shot at the request of the photographer, according to the prime minister's office.
The criticism comes as cases and hospitalisations in New Zealand surge. The country recorded 111 deaths in the past week, according to data from John Hopkins University.
While the government with Ms Ardern at the helm has moved away from an elimination strategy, the country has adopted a response to Covid which relies on personal responsibility.
Kiwis have been encouraged to wear a face mask when leaving the home by Ms Ardern and her ministers.
Australia not mandating masks
Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed Australia's Chief Health Officer has not recommended masks be mandated once again despite surging case numbers.
He was then asked if he expects his colleagues to wear masks in parliament next week.
"I'm expecting colleagues to follow the advice which is out there, which is if you can't socially distance if you're around the corridors of Parliament House, then you should follow the advice which is to wear a mask," he said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The rise in cases has prompted string calls from experts for restrictions and mask mandates to be enforced.
Professor Raina MacIntyre from the University of NSW says vaccines alone will not prevent Covid from spreading.
“Vaccines can help prevent people from ending up in hospital but they won’t stop the spread,” Prof MacIntyre told the Courier Mail.
“That can only be done with strict public health measures like mask mandates. Vaccines alone will not save us.”
Mr Albanese came under fire when he shared a video of him getting his Covid-19 booster without a mask earlier this month.
"Please wear masks, where is your solidarity with health workers who are sinking into despair at this point. Shocking," one person said in response to the PM's video.
However, the person who gave Mr Albanese his shot is also seen without a mask.
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