New Zealand is postponing its upcoming national election on account of a mysterious outbreak of COVID-19 in Auckland, the nation’s largest city, which has been under mandatory lockdown since Thursday. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the election would be moved from September 19 to October 17 — and vowed that the date would not be moved again.
There are, as of Monday, 58 cases in the Auckland cluster, which ended a streak of more than 100 days without any known cases of community transmission in the country. While the outbreak is small compared to what is happening in most other countries — or most American states — it has been worrisome for New Zealand authorities, who have not been able to identify the source of the outbreak. And cases have continued to turn up since the lockdown began in Auckland, which is home to about 1.7 million people.
Ardern said the election delay was necessary to give the country’s Electoral Commission more time to prepare safety measures amid the new outbreak, to ensure maximum turnout, and to give political parties more opportunity to campaign. There also appears to have been broad support for the move within the country, both among political parties and voters, and particularly in Auckland.