Green in hot water over alleged COVID breaches: How other governments have dealt with wayward officialsWednesday, September 15, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The entire Jamaica is watching to see what, if any action Prime Minister Andrew Holness will take against his youthful Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Floyd Green, for alleged breaches of COVID-19 protocols on no less than a no-movement day.
But, while Jamaicans' expectations of their political leaders is that they are indecisive and often spin themselves into knots trying to defend the indefensible, Observer Online has compiled a list of prominent officials, including government ministers in several Commonwealth countries who promptly resigned, or were forced out, over COVID-19 breaches that the rest of the population was expected to abide by.
The UK, JUNE 2021:
Matt Hancock was forced to resign as health secretary after he breached social distancing guidance by kissing a colleague.
In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Hancock said the government "owes it to people who have sacrificed so much in this pandemic to be honest when we have let them down".
Johnson, according to media reports, said he was "sorry" to receive the resignation.
Hancock had been under increasing pressure to quit, after the Sun published pictures - and then a video of him and Gina Coladangelo, who are both married with three children, kissing. The newspaper said they had been taken inside the Department of Health on May 6.
Hancock has ended his 15-year marriage to his wife, Martha, and the relationship with Ms Coladangelo is understood to be a serious one.
Behavioural scientists advising the government warned that the breaking of social distancing rules by Hancock could make others less likely to adhere to coronavirus restrictions.
Scotland, October 2020:
A Scottish National Party MP, Margaret Ferrier, was charged with culpable and reckless conduct after travelling by train from London to Glasgow after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms before testing positive.
Ferrier was suspended by the party and she said there was "no excuse for my actions", adding that she had reported herself to police after revealing her journey while positive with the virus.
The UK, March, 2020:
The prime minister's most senior aide, Dominic Cummings, faced calls to resign after he drove from London to County Durham despite strict lockdown restrictions introduced days earlier in late March.
He allegedly broke the government's lockdown rules when he was spotted at his parents' property in Durham where he was recovering from coronavirus symptoms, after travelling from his London home with his wife and son who also fell ill.
Cummings defended his actions in a press conference in the Downing Street rose garden, saying he believed he behaved "reasonably" and did not regret his actions.
The scientist, whose research helped usher in the lockdown, resigned on May 5 from his role as a key government adviser after admitting that he had undermined social distancing rules by reportedly meeting his "lover" at his home.
Scotland Yard criticised his behaviour as "plainly disappointing" but ruled out issuing a fine because he "has taken responsibility" after resigning as a key government adviser in the coronavirus response.
Cummings resigned as advisor in November last year after a falling out with Johnson.
Scotland, April 2020:
Scotland's chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned in April after twice breaking lockdown restrictions in order to visit her second home, which was located more than an hour away from her main residence in Edinburgh.
Despite Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backing Calderwood to remain in her position, she ultimately decided to relinquish her role so as not to be a "distraction" from the government's social-distancing message.
Australia, April 2020:
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian accepted the resignation of her arts minister, Don Harwin, after he was fined $1,000 for staying at his Central Coast holiday home in breach of a coronavirus public health order.
As governments around Australia were urging their citizens to stay home over Easter, Harwin was spotted earlier in the week at his Pearl Beach house, more than an hour's drive from his east Sydney primary residence.
Harwin maintained he sought formal advice that his living arrangements complied with the direction for people to stay at home, and that he acted in accordance with those orders.
But he said the controversy over his getaway was a “distraction” for the government at a critical time.
New Zealand 2020:
New Zealand's health minister resigned after criticism of the government's response to coronavirus and his own breaches of lockdown rules.
David Clark had already been demoted after breaking rules to take his family to the beach.
He said continuing in his role was distracting from the government's overall response to the pandemic.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that she had accepted his resignation.
New Zealand has been hailed as a success story when it comes to tackling the coronavirus.