Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a press conference at parliament in Wellington, New Zealand on August 17, 2020. The city, home to nearly one third of the nation's 5 million citizens, is a key battleground for Ardern as her Labour Party seeks a second term.
The COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland has forced the suspension of political campaigning and prompted calls to postpone the general election.
After spending the weekend consulting party leaders and the Electoral Commission, she chose 17 October, the earliest delayed date available to her.
The Prime Minister says that she has no intention of delaying the election again even if there are more infections.
"Even if I had not picked up the phone and contacted anyone, I believe this is still the outcome I would have arrived at", she told reporters, stressing that she had "absolutely no intention" of delaying the vote, now scheduled for October 17, a second time.
"This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead".
All parties suspended the campaign last week due to restrictions ordered to tackle this new epidemic wave, the origin of which remains unknown.
The archipelago opted for the same strategy as the one it had followed in the spring, by isolating the positive cases, massively testing the population and tracing the contacts of the infected people.
The earlier success has helped lift Ardern's personal popularity rating to a record 60%, along with her leadership during last year's Christchurch mosque attacks and the White Island volcano eruption.
Ardern has attained worldwide praise and surging popularity among New Zealanders for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Auckland outbreak was sparked by a frozen storage facility employee who passed the virus onto three family members, which spread into the community.
Addressing a news conference aired live from Auckland, Ardern said the re-emergence of coronavirus in the community was a "cause for concern" during the election period.
Under the country's law, Ardern has the option to delay the election by up to two months.
"We have been incredibly disappointed to see the National and other small parties continue to use the weekend to bang on about what would suit them best politically", he said.
Before the latest outbreak, New Zealand had gone 102 days without any known community transmission of the virus, and life had returned to normal for most people, with restaurants and schools open and sports fans back in stadiums.
But he assured the public there was no risk in purchasing frozen goods from the supermarket.
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