No special favors: New Zealand leader turned away from cafe

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her fiancé, Clarke Gayford were turned away from a cafe because it was too full under coronavirus guidelines. (AP)
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Updated 16 May 2020

No special favors: New Zealand leader turned away from cafe

  • Many New Zealand restaurants have limited their seating to comply with the rules

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: New Zealand’s leader found out there are no exceptions when it comes to social distancing after she was initially turned away from a cafe because it was too full under coronavirus guidelines.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her fiancé, Clarke Gayford, decided to get brunch Saturday at Olive, a restaurant in the capital, Wellington. That was two days after the country relaxed many of its lockdown rules, including reopening restaurants.
But social distancing rules still apply, requiring groups to remain at least 1 meter apart from each other. Many restaurants have limited their seating to comply with the rules.
What happened next played out on Twitter:
“Omg Jacinda Ardern just tried to come into Olive and was rejected cause it’s full,” wrote one Twitter user, Joey.
Gayford took the time to respond: “I have to take responsibility for this, I didn’t get organized and book anywhere. Was very nice of them to chase us down st (street) when a spot freed up. A+ service.”
Another Twitter user, Joanne, chimed in: “This has to be the most Kiwi tweet I’ve ever read ... love it, love NZ.”
Asked for comment, a spokesperson from Ardern’s office said in an email that waiting at a cafe is something that anyone can experience during New Zealand’s virus restrictions: “The PM says she just waits like everyone else.”
Ardern has been widely praised for her swift and decisive response to the pandemic. New Zealand closed its borders and instituted a strict lockdown in March, and has been largely successful in its goal of eliminating the virus. Health authorities have reported just a single new case over the past five days. The country has confirmed a total of 1,498 cases, including 21 deaths.


American sued in Thailand over negative Tripadviser review

Updated 26 September 2020

American sued in Thailand over negative Tripadviser review

  • ‘We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future’

BANGKOK: An American has been sued by an island resort in Thailand over a negative TripAdviser review, authorities said Saturday, and could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.
Domestic tourism is still happening in Thailand, where coronavirus numbers are relatively low, with locals and expats heading to near-empty resorts — including Koh Chang island, famed for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
But a recent visit to the Sea View Resort on the island landed Wesley Barnes in trouble after he wrote unflattering online reviews about his holiday.
“The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadviser website,” Col. Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police said.
He said Barnes was accused of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel,” and of quarrelling with staff over not paying a corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel.
Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested by immigration police and returned to Koh Chang where he was briefly detained and then freed on bail.
According to the Tripadviser review Barnes posted in July, he encountered “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here.”
The Sea View Resort said legal action was only taken because Barnes had penned multiple reviews on different sites over the past few weeks.
At least one was posted in June on Tripadviser accusing the hotel of “modern day slavery” — which the site removed after a week for violating its guidelines.
“We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future,” the hotel said, adding that staff had attempted to contact Barnes before filing the complaint.
Barnes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Thailand’s notorious anti-defamation laws have long drawn scrutiny from human rights and press freedom groups, who say powerful players use it as a weapon to stifle free expression.
The maximum sentence is two years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht ($6,300) fine.
Earlier this year, a Thai journalist was sentenced to two years in prison for posting a tweet referencing a dispute over working conditions at a chicken farm owned by the Thammakaset company.