FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a joint press conference held at the Admiralty House in Sydney, February 28, 2020. REUTERS / Lauren Elliott / File Photo
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced overnight that she was closing Auckland after discovering four new cases of COVID-19 in the city from the same family, despite international borders being closed to foreigners and keeping New Zealanders in mandatory quarantine had gone.
The government has said that the source of the new infection was hitherto unknown.
Long queues were seen outside supermarkets in Auckland and in other parts of the country as people stopped stocking food and other essentials, as new restrictions came into force before noon.
New Zealand’s largest city will move back into vigilante level-3 lockdown, which means people must stay away from work and school, and more than 10 people will have to gather or be banned. The ban will remain in force for three days, until Friday.
The rest of New Zealand will move to Level 2, meaning that social disturbances will be implemented and mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins told Radio New Zealand on Wednesday that the government was considering making it mandatory for Aucklanders to wear masks.
New Zealand’s successful fight against COVID-19 was saluted globally, and the Pacific island nation of 5 million was seen as one of the safest places to be, as the epidemic spread globally.
It marked 100 days without a domestic broadcast of coronoviruses on Sunday, but warned against complacency for countries such as Vietnam and Australia, which had once been under control, now war resurgence.
Calls to postpone the national election to be held on 19 September have increased, as political parties have suspended campaigns due to new restrictions.
National Party leader Judith Collins told Newshub, “It is very difficult to have an election in mid-September, when we are now in mid-August.”
According to Rai’s election, Erdern, who won comfortably, has said that he has not yet considered the impact of the new restrictions on elections.
Reporting by Praveen Menon; @