Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield is defending his lack of social distancing at Government House in Wellington where he and his wife were among guests of the Governor-General.
Bloomfield was pictured standing close to Dame Patsy Reddy and other guests including director of public health Caroline McElnay, Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black and head of the Covid-19 response team John Ombler.
"The dinner can be regarded as a private function, and the limited number of guests invited reflects the measures in place under level 2," Bloomfield said.
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He said also all appropriate precautions were taken including the use of hand sanitisers, guests registration and appropriate spacing was used during the seated dinner service.
"Guests came together very briefly for the photographs. There was no pre-dinner mix and mingle," he said.
"All pre-dinner drinks were served seated at the table and during the dinner, all food and drinks service took place at the table.
"Most importantly, no one was unwell."
Dame Patsy said the dinner on Tuesday night was the first official dinner she had hosted since the lockdown began.
Bloomfield described being invited to the dinner as "a humbling experience" and sees his invitation as an acknowledgment of the efforts of all New Zealanders who've helped the country reach the point where social events such as this can resume.
"It's great that New Zealanders continue to be aware of the importance of ongoing vigilance around Covid-19 and good public health practices to keep everyone safe," Bloomfield added.
Under level 2 rules, private events and gatherings can have up to 10 people.
Requirements include appropriate hand-washing facilities and keeping communal areas such as bathrooms clean.
Unless the event is in a private home, organisers need to keep a record of attendance to enable health officials to trace contacts if needed.
The dinner at Government House was also attended by Dame Patsy's husband David Gascoigne and their miniature poodle Coco.