A social media post from a high-profile Auckland bar has taken aim at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following her announcement that bars would not be able to open for a week after level 2 came into force.
The post on the Facebook page of HeadQuarters bar in the Viaduct claimed the Prime Minister was telling "lies and half truths" regarding the spread of Covid-19 at bars and hospitality venues.
The post has since been deleted, reportedly after backlash in the comments, with some people saying they would boycott the establishment. It's not clear if Leo Molloy - the bar's controversial and outspoken owner - wrote the post.
Among the most prominent claims in the expletive-riddled, all-caps post was the assertion that a man who spread the virus in South Korea attended a number of "gay dungeon bars".
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It comes after Ardern pointed out South Korea was suffering a second wave of infection which had been spread at bars, and warned that could also happen in New Zealand without strict protocols in place.
The HeadQuarters post called that "BS", saying the man in South Korea had attended a "series of gay dungeon bars" and was a case of community infection, which does not appear to be happening in New Zealand.
Reports from overseas media say the 29-year-old man - who had no symptoms - visited five bars in the Seoul party district of Itaewon on May 1 and 2.
According to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the man then tested positive on May 6.
After a South Korean newspaper linked to a local church reported the venues were gay clubs, there has been an increase in homophobic commentary in the conservative country. Authorities are concerned attacks on the LGBTQ community are hampering contact tracing as people who visited the bars fear being outed as gay.
South Korea had previously had a very low number of cases of Covid-19 and had been praised for its response to the pandemic.
The country's capital Seoul reopened its 2000 nightclubs just days earlier but had to close them again following the "superspreader" event, which so far has given rise to at least 102 cases of Covid-19, according to the Korea Herald.
Ardern alluded to the case in a press conference on Monday when she announced level 2 would come into force at midnight tonight.
But bars would not be allowed to for another week. Ardern said bars posed the most risk - noting that South Korea had opened bars but then closed them again after the fresh outbreak.
Ardern said Ministry of Health officials had recommended keeping bars closed for two weeks but Cabinet settled on 10 days, meaning they couldn't open until May 21.
When they did open, everyone had to be seated, tables separated and single server would be allowed per table. Bars and restaurants that broke the rules would be closed.
Ardern has since elaborated on the difference between bars and restaurants, telling MediaWorks' Duncan Garner such venues could open if their primary purpose was serving food.
"Those who are primarily there for serving drinks will be delayed by a week," she said.
"Those who primarily exist for the commercial purposes of just serving drinks would have to reorientate their business significantly for a week in order to abide by those rules. Some may choose to do that."
HeadQuarters put up a new post on Facebook this morning with a Venn diagram pointing out it was possible for one person to be simultaneously concerned about the economy and the expansion of government powers while taking Covid-19 seriously.
Molloy confirmed yesterday he still planned to hold a party with 100 of his "friends" during the first weekend of level 2 at HeadQuarters.
He told Newstalk ZB's Heather Du Plessis-Allan that those attending the central Auckland bash were "friends of Headquarters and personal friends of mine".
Molloy said partygoers would be required to attend in bubbles of 10 or fewer people and would be seated at separate tables.
He wasn't concerned about breaching level 2 rules - because "the type of clientele that we attract, they tend to act with a modicum of decorum in a civilised fashion".
Those on the guest list are National's deputy leader Paula Bennett, former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry and Destiny Church's Brian and Hannah Tamaki, Auckland MP Nikki Kaye, Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere, band members from True Bliss and former MP Hone Harawira.
However, Kaye told the Herald via email this morning she would not be attending the event as "I am seeing my mum".
Karyn Malthus, Auckland City District Commander Superintendent, has said police have not approved any parties or events that would breach alert level 2 rules.
"Auckland Police do not and will not support HeadQuarters or any establishment, opening and operating in contravention of alert level 2 requirements," she said.