Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced delaying New Zealand's elections by four weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak in Auckland.
The election which had been scheduled for September 19 will now be held on October 17, Ardern announced at a press conference in the parliament building Beehive in Wellington on Monday, reports AP.
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 campaigning.
Before the latest outbreak, New Zealand had gone 102 days without any known community transmission, and life had returned to normal for most people.
The only known cases during this time were returning travelers who were quarantined at the border. Officials believe the virus was reintroduced to New Zealand from abroad but are yet to determine how.
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.
Read Also: 14 new Covid-19 cases found in New Zealand after 102 days without any locally transmitted case
Ardern had the option of delaying the election for up to about two months. The prime minister said she had called the leaders of all the political parties represented in the parliament to get their views before making her decision Monday.
“Ultimately I want to ensure we’ve 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.
She said she wouldn't consider delaying the election again — no matter what was happening with any virus outbreaks.
“COVID is continuing to disrupt life around the world," Ardern said, noting that other nations including South Korea and Singapore had nevertheless managed to hold elections during the pandemic.