ALL NEWS

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delays election over Covid-19

Aug 16, 2020, 7:06 PM
New Zealand election...
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces the election delay. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images)
(Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images)

(CNN) — New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she is delaying the country’s parliamentary election by four weeks to October 17 after the reemergence of Covid-19 in the country last week.

The announcement on Tuesday that locally acquired cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in the New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, prompted the government to introduce strict level three lockdown measures on August 12. This comes after around 100 days without community spread.

The rest of the country was put into level two lockdown, with both lockdown periods extended until at least August 26 as further cases of coronavirus were confirmed.

New Zealand election postponed due to COVID concerns

The general election was due to take place on September 19, with Parliament rising on August 6 and campaigning had already begun before the lockdowns were introduced.

But at a live-streamed media conference Monday, Ardern said it was clear “the reemergence of Covid in Auckland at the beginning of the formal campaign period has been cause for concern.”

Ardern said that New Zealand’s Electoral Commission had assured her that a safe and accessible election would be possible on the new date.

“Ultimately I want to ensure we have a well-run election that gives all voters the best chance to receive all the information about parties and candidates and delivers certainty for the future,” she said.

Ardern said while the decision to change the election date rested solely with her as Prime Minister, she consulted with other party leaders as “moving an election date especially this late in an electoral cycle is a significant decision.”

“In the end what matters most is what is in the best interests of voters and our democracy,” she said. “Any decision to review the election date must be as free from partisan political interests as possible.”

Ardern said New Zealand’s Electoral Commission had been preparing for a range of circumstances, such as holding an election in level two or three lockdown, and that she did not intend to change the election date again.

“Even if I had not picked up the phone and contacted anyone, I believe this is the outcome I would have arrived at,” she said. “Covid is the world’s new normal. Here in New Zealand, we are all working as hard as we can to make sure that our new normal disrupts our lives as little as possible.”

New Zealand’s Parliament will now reconvene Tuesday and be dissolved on September 6 ahead of the October poll.

“Confirmation of the date provides certainty to the public about when the election will be held,” Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright said in a statement. “We have been considering alternative election dates and are confident we can revise our existing arrangements for 17 October.”

The commission said that it had always prepared for the election to be run as if under Alert Level 2 lockdown restrictions, with planned measures including contact tracing, provision of hand sanitizer and physical distancing.

Opposition lawmakers react

Leader of the opposition, National Party Leader Judith Collins, had previously called for the election to be delayed until November.

In a statement after Ardern’s announcement Tuesday she said: “It was always National’s view that to have a fair, democratic election, we needed to deal with this second wave of Covid-19 so politicians from all parties had a reasonable chance to present their policies, and the public felt comfortable engaging with the campaign without putting their health at risk.

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters — who is Deputy Prime Minister in Ardern’s coalition government — had also called publicly for the election to be delayed and issued a statement welcoming the move.

“Holding an election during a Covid outbreak has the risk of serious interference in our democracy. Voters would be expected to exercise their electoral rights with a dearth of information and that is unacceptable,” Peters said.

New Zealand has already spent five weeks under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, which closed most businesses and schools from March 25, and saw people stay at home.

It returned to level one on June 9, with border controls remaining in place but most citizens living life as normal — until last week..

As of Sunday, New Zealand had 49 confirmed cases relating to the most recent community cluster and an additional 20 active cases linked to overseas travel, with returning residents still facing a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival in the country.

Since March, New Zealand has reported a total of 1,622 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 22 deaths.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

(Getty Images)...
Mark Jones

Man in possession of fentanyl pills, heroin arrested at SLC airport

A Weber County man was charged in court after being arrested last week in possession of roughly 4,100 fentanyl pills and 378 dosages of heroin.
1 day ago
Condor...
Mark Jones

DWR officials taking steps to protect California condors

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is offering prizes to hunters in the Zion hunting unit to help reduce lead poisoning of the endangered California condors.
1 day ago
dangerous heat study...
Mark Jones

September was the hottest month in Salt Lake City and it wasn’t close

According to KSL meteorologist Kristen Van Dyke, September was the hottest month ever recorded in Salt Lake City.
1 day ago
supreme court pictured, its new term has started and will hear new cases...
Aimee Cobabe

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Utah case involving bump stocks

A Utah court case involving bump stocks will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court declined to say why it won't take up the case.
1 day ago
The Book of Mormon Art Catalog offers users a variety of ways to conduct specific searches and to b...
Devin Oldroyd

Book of Mormon digital visual art catalog launches Monday

A digital catalog of visual art inspired by the Book of Mormon became available on Oct. 3. It features more than 2,000 pieces.
1 day ago
Mosquitos at a Utah lab are pictured....
Britt Johnson

Uptick in mosquitos in Utah caused by recent weather and temperatures

Mosquitos in Utah have seen a growth in population thanks to recent weather. While aggressive, they are not the disease-carrying breed.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delays election over Covid-19