News and Commentary

New Zealand Delays Election Over Coronavirus Fears
Jacinda Adern, New Zealand's prime minister, speaks during the Labour Party election campaign launch in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. Ardern launched her campaign for a second term by reminding voters of her leadership credentials and pledging to steer the country through the economic crisis unleashed by Covid-19. Photographer: Brendon O'Hagan/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Brendon O’Hagan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that the island nation will be postponing its election for four weeks after a resurgence of the coronavirus.

According to The Associated Press, Ardern moved the election originally scheduled for Sept. 19 to Oct. 17 after a cluster of COVID-19 cases emerged in Auckland last week. New Zealand has been one of the most successful countries in terms of containing the spread of COVID-19, having gone 102 days without any known new cases, before going into partial lockdown following the new outbreak.

“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 also said she did not plan to move the election again. Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which prescribes the date for elections, New Zealand law allows the prime minister to postpone an election for up to about two months.

Lockdown measures in New Zealand have been particularly strict and a leading epidemiologist claimed some people could be quarantined for years. As The Daily Wire reported, Michael Baker told a New Zealand news site, “We’re going to have thousands of people sitting in these facilities, quarantined in isolation facilities for months, maybe years ahead. Sensible risk management says when a mistake happens you figure out what went wrong, and you improve the system.”

Some New Zealanders under quarantine have taken to breaking out of their facilities. As NewsHub reported:

The latest escapee, a person in their 60s, broke the window of the Waipuna Hotel in Auckland on Friday and climbed out of the building. They then scaled the fence and began to knock on the doors of neighbouring homes.

Their escape is the fourth since last Saturday, when a woman scaled two fences to escape from Auckland’s Pullman Hotel. She was out of isolation for more than an hour.  On Tuesday, a 32-year-old man snuck through a gap in the Stamford Plaza fencing and visited an inner-city supermarket. The following day he tested positive for COVID-19.

The third person to have allegedly escaped from managed isolation was Martin James McVicar. He allegedly absconded from the Distinction Hotel in Hamilton on Thursday evening before entering a nearby liquor store and reportedly buying a four-pack of Leffe Blonde and a bottle of pinot noir.

President Donald Trump has faced backlash for floating the idea of postponing the U.S. election. On July 30, Trump tweeted, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told WNKY-TV that “never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions, and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this November 3.”

Related: New Zealand Goes Into Partial Lockdown After Confirming First Case Of Coronavirus In 102 Days

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