New Zealand’s Prime Minister delays election over Coronavirus

By Vatican News

“Ultimately, the 17th of October … provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under.”

Those were Jacinda Ardern’s words at a press conference on Monday as she delayed the country’s general election.

The decision came after parties complained they could not campaign with nearly a third of New Zealand’s five million people under lockdown in Auckland due to the pandemic.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who had called for a delay, said “common sense has prevailed”.

COVID-19 in New Zealand

Restrictions were imposed on Auckland last Wednesday after a number of new infections were discovered.

On Monday, the country recorded nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to 78.

The origin of the new outbreak is still unknown. Authorities said previously that it could have been through a cold-storage facility where one of the infected individuals worked.

In total, 1,280 cases have been confirmed in the country, and 22 deaths.

Re-scheduled elections

The election had been scheduled for September 19 and New Zealand law requires it to be held by November 21.

The Election Commission said it was ready to hold a vote with health measures in place, including hand sanitiser and social distancing in voting centres, protective equipment for staff and contact-tracing systems.

The people of Auckland and those in the city are being advised to wear masks in public in order to avoid spreading the virus.

There has also been an increase in border testing at ports and airports.

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