Coronavirus: Auckland bar owner rages at Jacinda Ardern over alert level 2 rules, makes bizarre 'gay dungeon' claim

A seething Auckland bar owner has directed a series of bizarre and vicious messages at the Prime Minister after she revealed bars would only be allowed to open a week after alert level 2 comes into effect.

Jacinda Ardern explained this week that pubs and nightclubs would remain closed until Thursday, May 21.

She said the Government had made the decision in response to South Korea, which saw a fresh flare-up of COVID-19 cases as a result of reopening its bars.

But that explanation hasn't gone down well with bar owners - and especially not Leo Molloy, the highly controversial owner of Headquarters Bar in the Viaduct, who says her explanation was made up of "lies and half-truths".

In one irascible Facebook post on Tuesday night - which Molloy didn't explicitly say he wrote, but was in the distinctive all-caps style seen on his personal Facebook page - he claimed South Korea's outbreak wasn't caused by bars like his, but rather by "gay dungeon bars".

While local media reports the man who infected 14 people with COVID-19 in Seoul had visited bars in the city's gay district, there's no evidence they were of the 'dungeon' variety.

That post on the Headquarters page has now been deleted after patrons threatened to boycott the bar, but other posts remain there and on his personal Facebook profile.

It came just hours after Molloy confirmed he was planning to hold a 100-person party at Headquarters during the first weekend at alert level 2. He says attendees would be seated at tables of 10 people or fewer, in accordance with Government regulations.

But when asked about it in her daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Ardern said the planned event would not be able to go ahead.

"As we've always said, of course we will be operating under the ANZAC provisions right through to the 21st [of May] - and even within that we can't have more than groups of 10 socialising, mingling and mixing together," she told media.

In a post on Wednesday morning he took aim at those who had criticised the deleted post, labelling them "mental midgets", "toxic twats" and "rabid internutters".

Coronavirus: Auckland bar owner rages at Jacinda Ardern over alert level 2 rules, makes bizarre 'gay dungeon' claim
Photo credit: Headquarters Viaduct / Facebook

Another post on his personal Facebook page claims the Government - not the hospitality sector - caused the emergence of coronavirus clusters in New Zealand.

"So two rows of teeth says gathering in pubs and bars causes clusters," he wrote on May 8.

"WTF, Matamata was a dude coming back from Ireland on March 15 when she hadn't secured the border. Bluff was on March 21, an airline steward not being checked at the border. Tell the truth. You caused it FFS."

The latest posts are not Molloy's first brush with controversy.

Earlier this year, he was revealed to be the Auckland businessman who breached name suppression in the Grace Millane murder case, and last year came under fire for targeting The Project's Kanoa Lloyd, saying "the world would be better off" without her.

He's also received criticism for provocative social media rants insulting vegans and rugby league fans.