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New Zealand’s Prime Minister announced a delay in the parliamentary election on Aug. 16, 2020. The new date, according to Jacinda Ardern, is October 17. She cites the reemergence of COVID-19 in Auckland.
The four-week postponement comes after officials confirmed locally acquired coronavirus cases in New Zealand’s largest city. The new cases appeared after the country experienced about 100 days without community spread. As a result, the government imposed a level three lockdown.
The rest of the country is on level two. At this time, the lockdown period is extended until August 26 — at the earliest.
September 19 is the new date for the general election. Ardern explains the ultimate outcome is to have a well-run election season offering voters all the information about the candidates and their parties’ platforms.
The prime minister further declared, “In the end, what matters most is what is in the best interest of voters and our democracy.” New Zealand’s Electoral Commission was preparing for a variety of factors, such as elections held in level two or three lockdowns. Arden does not intend to move the election day beyond October 17.
After the election delay announcement the National Party Leader Judith Collins — Arden’s opposition — declared she welcomed the move to ensure the safety of all voters. Winston Peters, the Deputy Prime Minister concurs.
New Zealand spent five weeks in lockdown beginning March 25 and on June 9 the country returned to level one. Until last week residents were living life as normal. However, late this afternoon, New Zealand had 58 confirmed COVID-19 cases thought to be linked to a recent community cluster. The country also identified 20 cases linked to overseas travel, who will spend a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Since March, New Zealand has had a total of 1,280 confirmed coronavirus cases and 351 probable cases. New Zealand has only had 22 deaths thus far.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delays election over COVID-19; by Susannah Cullinane and Samantha Beech
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