New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern allows national September 19 elections to proceed as planned despite Coronavirus fears.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced that she does not plan to move the September 19 election date in January.
The Electoral Commission said it held discussions with the government’s health authorities regarding how to cast votes during Coronavirus threats.
“This year’s election will be different because of COVID-19, a range of measures will be in place to help keep people safe,” it said.
Chief electoral officer Alicia Wright said the guidelines include queue order, social distancing and sanitizing hands alongside ballot boxes.
Advance voting and postal voting will be encouraged, particularly for the elderly and those with existing medical conditions.
These guidelines does not affect other election campaigns such as campaign launches, party rallies and door-to-door canvassing.
Jacinda said she had only considered the election “in passing” as she deals with the COVID-19 crisis.
“The election feels — in terms of days, weeks and months — a lifetime away,” she told reporters.
“As you’d imagine in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s not something that I have yet turned my mind to.”
No opinion polls have been officially released during New Zealand’s lockdown. But, the reports said last month had Ardern’s party heading for a landslide, with 55 percent support to National’s 29 percent.
New Zealand will hold two referendums alongside the September 19 election on legalising cannabis and allowing euthanasia.