A Canadian politician has resigned after being caught taking a family holiday in the sunny Caribbean while his compatriots were urged to avoid non-essential travel during a strict pandemic lockdown.
Ontario's finance minister, Rod Phillips, apologised for his "dumb, dumb mistake," telling reporters upon arrival home at Toronto airport yesterday: "I do not make any excuses for the fact that I travelled when we shouldn't have travelled."
Hours later, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he had accepted Phillips' resignation.
"At a time when the people of Ontario have sacrificed so much, today's resignation is a demonstration that our government takes seriously our obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard," Mr Ford said in a statement.
While the public was urged to skip big Christmas get-togethers this year, Mr Phillips' staff continued to post messages from him on social media giving the false impression that he was home for the holidays.
This included a fireside video on Christmas Eve in which he thanks Canadians for their efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 illness.
It's #ChristmasEve. To my constituents in #Ajax & people across Ontario, all the best during this special time of year. Even as COVID-19 changes how we celebrate, we should reflect on what makes Christmas so special to us - including family & the act of giving. #MerryChristmas! pic.twitter.com/AX7hKWA88n— Rod Phillips (@RodPhillips01) December 24, 2020
Mr Phillips, local media revealed this week, had travelled to the Caribbean island of St Barts on 13 December as the number of new daily Covid-19 cases across Canada hit record highs.
He said he would have cancelled the trip if he'd known that two weeks later the surge in cases - including 3,300 in Ontario on Thursday - would force Canada's most populous province and economic engine into a 30-day lockdown.
But officials have been warning against travel for months.
On Wednesday, Doug Ford told reporters at a facility preparing vaccines: "There can't be rules for elected people and non-elected people."
"I can tell you I'm very upset. I'm very frustrated with the situation. I stand out here every single day and tell people to stay at home," he said.
Mr Phillips, a member of Ontario's ruling Progressive Conservative Party, also reportedly took a trip to Switzerland in August.