Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delayed New Zealand's elections by four weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak in Auckland, which has grown to 49 infections, the AP reports. The election had been scheduled for Sept. 19 but will now be held on Oct. 17. Opposition parties had sought a delay after the virus outbreak prompted the government last week to put Auckland under a two-week lockdown and halt election campaigning. Before the latest outbreak, New Zealand had gone 102 days without any known community transmission of the virus; officials believe the virus was reintroduced to New Zealand from abroad but haven’t yet determined how. They also believe all of the infections are connected, giving them hope the virus isn’t spreading beyond the cluster.
Ardern had the option of delaying the election for up to about two months. 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. “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. She said she wouldn't consider delaying the election again—no matter what was happening with any virus outbreaks. 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.
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