Hypocrisy gone viral? Officials set bad COVID-19 examples

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FILE - In this April 28, 2020 file photo, Vice President Mike Pence, center, visits Dennis Nelson, a patient who survived the coronavirus and was going to give blood, during a tour of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as he toured the facilities supporting COVID-19 research and treatment. From the U.S. president to the British prime minister's top aide and far beyond, leading officials around the world are refusing to wear masks or breaking confinement rules meant to protect their populations from the coronavirus and slow the pandemic. While some are punished when they're caught, or publicly repent, others shrug off the violations as if the rules don't apply to them. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

PARIS – “Do as I say, but not as I do” was the message many British saw in the behavior of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's key aide, who traveled hundreds of miles with coronavirus symptoms during the country's lockdown.

While Dominic Cummings has faced calls for his firing but support from his boss over his journey from London to the northern city of Durham in March, few countries seem immune to the perception that politicians and top officials are bending the rules that their own governments wrote during the pandemic.

From U.S. President Donald Trump to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, global decision-makers have frequently set bad examples, whether it's refusing to wear masks or breaking confinement rules aimed at protecting their citizens from COVID-19.

Some are punished when they’re caught, others publicly repent, while a few just shrug off the violations during a pandemic that has claimed more than 350,000 lives worldwide.

Here are some notable examples:

NEW ZEALAND HEALTH MINISTER CALLS HIMSELF AN “IDIOT”

In April, New Zealand’s health minister was stripped of some of his responsibilities after defying the country’s strict lockdown measures. David Clark drove 19 kilometers (12 miles) to the beach to take a walk with his family as the government was asking people to make historic sacrifices by staying at home.

“I’ve been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me,” Clark said. He also earlier acknowledged driving to a park near his home to go mountain biking.