NZ Official Makes Risque Gaffe During COVID Update

Coronavirus response minister Chris Hipkins notes the challenge for people to get out, 'spread their legs'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2021 11:10 AM CDT
NZ Official Totally Didn't Mean to Give Out X-Rated COVID Advice
Chris Hipkins speaks to reporters on Sept. 25, 2019, in Wellington, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/Nick Perry)

Chris Hipkins may want to do a dry run on what he's going to say at pressers from now on. At a news conference on Sunday, the COVID response minister for New Zealand was giving Kiwis an update on the current coronavirus outbreak, and he touched on how it could be difficult to appropriately social-distance in crowded situations, per the Guardian. Except as Hipkins acknowledged that difficulty, he experienced an embarrassing slip of the tongue. "Look, it is a challenge in high-density areas for people to get outside and spread their legs," he said. Hipkins obviously meant "stretch their legs," and he self-corrected shortly thereafter.

"I'm sure you'll all have fun with me later," he smiled as he prepared to leave the presser. The sign language interpreter appearing on the TV screen to relay Hipkins' message didn't appear to miss a beat, but Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's health chief, gave a subtle smile and raised his eyebrows. Yahoo News notes the gaffe didn't escape the internet, either, with spoofs on Hipkins' flub soon popping up on TikTok and Twitter.

"Just out here listening to my government," one commenter tweeted, showing a non-X-rated video of himself doing a legs-spread stretch outdoors. Meanwhile, someone posted a clip of Hipkins' remarks accompanied by the theme song from Curb Your Enthusiasm, complete with a zoom-in on Bloomfield's reaction. The New Zealand Herald notes that Hipkins' verbal bungle has even inspired "Kiwis' entrepreneurial spirit": The small business Nofilterco is now selling a $25 mug featuring a cartoon drawing of Hipkins and the phrase "Drive short distances to spread your legs." (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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