New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday delayed a key step toward next month’s general election, as the country was plunged back into lockdown after the discovery of the first COVID-19 cases in more than three months, Reuters reported.
Ardern said she was suspending the dissolution of parliament, which was due to make way for an election scheduled to take place on Sept. 19, until Monday. No decision had yet been made on delaying the actual poll, she added.
“It’s too early to make decisions but there is a bit of flexibility to move the election date if required,” Ardern told a televised media conference, adding any date before Nov. 21 can be chosen for the election.
New Zealand health officials are urgently tracing the source of four new cases of COVID-19, all within one family in Auckland, the country’s largest city.
The cluster, the first cases reported in the country for 102 days, led Ardern to announce the reimposition of lockdown measures late on Tuesday.
Auckland shifted to level 3 restrictions at midday (24:00 GMT) on Wednesday, requiring people to stay at home unless for essential trips. The rest of the country was placed back into slightly looser level 2 restrictions. The restrictions will initially remain in place until Friday.