New Zealand delays elections a month due to sudden virus outbreak

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She said she wouldn’t consider delaying the election again – no matter what was happening with any virus outbreaks. Before the latest outbreak, New Zealand had gone 102 days without any known community transmission of the virus, and life had returned to normal for most people, with restaurants and schools open and sports fans back in stadiums. Ardern said she believed there was enough time to organize everything. But the small opposition ACT party welcomed the delay. Opinion polling indicates Ardern’s liberal Labour Party is favored to win a second term in office. The party’s popularity has jumped significantly since the pandemic, with Ardern winning international praise for the way she’s handled the crisis. “Ultimately, I want to ensure we have a well-run election that gives all voters the best chance to receive all the information they need about parties and candidates, and delivers certainty for the future,” Ardern said. Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox

Officials believe the virus was reintroduced to New Zealand from abroad but haven’t yet determined how. The only known cases during that time were returning travelers who were quarantined at the border. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces a new date for national elections, during a news conference in Wellington, New Zealand on August 17, 2020. Other nations including South Korea and Singapore had nevertheless managed to hold elections during the pandemic, she added. New Zealand prime minister delays elections a month due to sudden coronavirus outbreak

August 17, 2020 / 7:16 AM
/ AP

New Zealand puts Auckland on virus lockdown

New Zealand puts Auckland on virus lockdown

00:50

Wellington, New Zealand — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed New Zealand’s elections by four weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak in Auckland. 17. Mark Mitchell / New Zealand Herald via AP

Ardern had the option of delaying the election for up to about two months. Leader David Seymour said the new outbreak had already forced him to cancel a dozen events, including debates and community meetings “In order to have a free and fair election, candidates need to be out in the community listening to voters, and that’s not possible while Aucklanders are housebound,” he said in a statement. “COVID is continuing to disrupt life around the world,” Ardern said. Ardern also announced that lawmakers would be called back to parliament, which had finished sitting ahead of the election. The parliament will now continue operating through early September. 19 but will now be held on Oct. The delay will cause logistical problems, including rebooking voting venues and ensuring that the thousands of election workers needed for the poll are available on the new date. The outbreak in the nation’s largest city has grown to 58 infections, all thought to be connected, giving health officials hope the virus isn’t spreading beyond the cluster. The election had been scheduled for Sept. Opposition parties had sought a delay after the virus outbreak prompted the government last week to put Auckland under a two-week lockdown and halted election campaigning. Conservative opposition leader Judith Collins didn’t offer much of an opinion on the delay, saying only that her National Party “acknowledges the new date” while also saying there had been testing failures at the border. She said she had called the leaders of all the political parties represented in the parliament to get their views before making her decision Monday. First published on August 17, 2020 / 1:58 AM The election had been scheduled for September 19 but will now be held on October 17, after a COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland.