Did Jacinda Ardern 'Barge' a Sign Language Interpreter Out of View During Covid-19 Press Conference?

The New Zealand Prime Minister later explained what happened during the viral moment and said she apologized to the interpreter.

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was seen appearing to barge a sign language interpreter out of the way at a Covid-19 press conference.

The footage, taken on Friday during the Government's COVID-19 press conference, shows Ardern stepping away from the podium to allow Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson to speak.

Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Ardern and the interpreter seen in stills from the video that has gone viral on social media. YouTube

As Ardern shifts further to her left, the sign language interpreter is forced out of the shot. The interpreter can then be seen stepping around Ardern and taking her place next to Robertson, where she resumes her sign language interpretation. Watch the video below:

Media Coverage

Video of the moment soon went viral on social media, with several global media outlets, including CNN and the Daily Mail, reporting on the incident.

CNN's Jeanne Moss, in her report, described the scene as Ardern "bigfooting her interpreter off the screen", and "physically edged the interpreter out of the picture." Moss also noted that the interpreter gave the New Zealand leader a "look" after the alleged moment but acknowledged Ardern's "expression of surprise" when the interpreter re-appeared beside her, "followed by an apologetic smile."

Moss also drew comparisons to the moment former US President Donald Trump appeared to push aside Montenegro's Prime Minister in 2017 during a NATO summit.

The Daily Mail also described the footage of Ardern as "astonishing", and noted that the interpreter did not seem "happy" about being "barged out of the way," judging by her facial expressions.

Ardern Addresses Incident, Says It Was Not Intentional

Not long after the video went viral, Ardern provided an explanation behind the moment, claiming it was not intentional.

"She was to my left and I was trying to not get in the way of my colleagues and cross over them and maintain social distance," she told reporters on her way into parliament on Tuesday. "But of course, in doing so, I cut her off - not intentionally, as you can imagine, and I apologised to her at the time."