New Zealand general election postponed amid COVID-19 concerns

A recent COVID-19 outbreak has New Zealand’s prime minister hitting the panic button.

The country’s general election will now be postponed until October 17 in the hopes the crisis will be under control by that time, according to an NBC News report. The election was originally scheduled to be held on September 19.

The outbreak

Compared to most countries, New Zealand’s attempt to keep the coronavirus out has been a great success. The country has reported fewer than 1,700 cases and only 22 deaths. That success, however, comes at a massive cost.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken an all-or-nothing approach, imposing strict lockdowns on the country at any hint of an outbreak.

The country had gone more than 100 days without any community transmission of the virus until last week.

At that time, a man and several of his family members tested positive, which had Ardern hitting the lockdown button again.

Auckland, where the infected family lives, was dialed back to Level 3 restrictions while the rest of the country was put at Level 2. Watch Ardern’s announcement below:

Since the lockdown, dozens of more cases have shown up, showing how contagious this virus can be and also calling into question if there is any right way to go about this, considering how careful New Zealand has been.

Delayed election

After receiving complaints that the renewed lockdown would not allow fair campaigning, Ardern took the unprecedented measure of delaying the election, a move that could actually hurt her.

The prime minister has become very popular in the country due to the low number of cases, but a second prolonged shutdown could be too much for the nation’s strained economy. Some are protesting the renewed lockdown, according to local reports.

Some media outlets are already comparing Trump’s pandemic response to New Zealand, as was the case in a recent Forbes article, but that is a completely unfair analysis. We have more residents in the state of South Carolina than New Zealand has in its entire country, so the comparison is ridiculous.

The measures taken by New Zealand would have done far more irreparable harm to our economy than has already been done with the brief shutdown we already went through, and New Zealand does not have the rather loose travel and immigration policies we have here in the United States.

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