COVID-19: Michael Baker 'quite shocked' at photo of Jacinda Ardern maskless in crowd

Not a week after the Government made a public plea for Kiwis to wear masks more to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Prime Minister has posted a crowded, maskless photo on social media.

Jacinda Ardern posed for the photo with the 120 youth MPs, Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro and a number of sitting MPs on a staircase in the Beehive.

Just one person can be seen wearing a mask.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said Ardern had been wearing a mask the rest of the day, but took it off briefly for the photo at the request of the photographer.

Other photos in the post show the Prime Minister and others wearing masks.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said he was "quite shocked" and that it was a "missed opportunity to promote mask-use".

Baker said New Zealand needs its leaders to help normalise mask-use.

An hour after the Prime Minister posted the photo to her Instagram and Facebook accounts, Speaker Trevor Mallard emailed everyone in the Parliamentary precinct a reminder about wearing masks.

"For the safety of all on the precinct, I remind you of this rule. It applies to everyone. I have asked the CE of Parliamentary Services to advise me if anyone is not cooperative."

Mallard told Newshub his email reminder was not connected to Ardern's social media post.

Last week, COVID-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield begged the public to wear masks more.

They asked Kiwis to wear masks not for themselves, but for others.

"Mask-wearing should be like wearing a seatbelt," said Dr Bloomfield. 

"What we mean when we recommend mask-use is that you should do it," said Dr Verrall. 

The Prime Minister got in hot water on the 2020 election campaign for taking a maskless selfie with fans.

Ardern said at the time that the selfie was a "mistake" and that "it was the wrong thing".