New Zealand’s general election has been delayed by four weeks, the country’s prime minister has announced.

Jacinda Ardern said that the coronavirus pandemic makes it more difficult for parties to campaign.

The country’s election was originally due to be held on 19 September.

Jacinda Ardern announces that Auckland will go into lockdown for three days
Jacinda Ardern announces that Auckland will go into lockdown after a cluster of cases were identified.

“Having weighed up all these factors and taken wide soundings, I have decided on balance to move the election by four weeks to 17 October,” she told a news conference on Monday morning local time.

“Ultimately, 17 October… provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under.”

She had been under pressure to postpone the vote, after a small resurgence of coronavirus in Auckland. As of Sunday, there are 69 active cases in the country.

New Zealand had previously been coronavirus-free for 102 days.

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Auckland, the country’s biggest city, was plunged back into a lockdown after the cluster of cases had been discovered, with people being urged to stay at home.

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The country’s deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, had called for a delay, as had the main opposition – National Party.

The National Party had delayed events in the run up to the election due to changes in crowd number restrictions, and has accused Ms Ardern of using the COVID-19 outbreak to bolster her support.