Social media live chats during heightened lockdown . . .
New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown is among the strictest and was one of the first enacted in any democratic country. Like most heads of government, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gives a daily press conference on COVID-19 developments and related government policies and responses. She also regularly uses the Facebook Live platform to communicate with New Zealanders about the pandemic. She first did so on March 24, hours before the country enacted a lockdown. The PM’s conversation with a well-known New Zealand psychologist on mental health and lockdown conditions has been shared all over the world. She has also called out and disciplined rule-breakers, such as demoting her Health Minister after he went for a walk on a public beach (not allowed during lockdown) and describing those who breach lockdown rules as “idiots.”
Ardern’s leadership a ‘masterclass’ . . .
Many analysts have praised Ardern for issuing concise and easily understandable directions and showing empathy. They contrast her leadership to that of other leaders such as Australia’s Prime Minster Scott Morrison, whose communication in the pandemic’s early stages was muddled, and the U.K.’s Boris Johnson. Johnson’s pre-recorded lockdown announcement focused on describing new measures and seeking compliance, but was largely devoid of empathy and allowed no opportunity for media questions.
Canadian leadership also praised . . .
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis has received positive reviews, with a new Ipsos poll showing that 74 per cent of Canadians approve of his leadership during the crisis. Support largely follows partisan lines: 97 per cent of Liberal voters approve, versus 46 per cent of Conservative voters. In his daily press conferences, Trudeau’s empathetic side has risen to the fore while he effectively conveys his government’s anti-virus measures and economic support policies. Canadian premiers have garnered even more support, with 83 per cent of Ontarians supporting Premier Doug Ford’s crisis leadership and a whopping 96 per cent of Quebec residents approving of François Legault’s performance, despite the high infection numbers in both provinces.