New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern calls off wedding amid Covid restrictions

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called off her wedding as the country imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gatherings from midnight after a cluster of nine Covid-19 Omicron cases showed the community spread from the North Islands to the South Islands after a wedding .

A family has flown back to Nelson in the South Island after attending a wedding and other events in Auckland in the North Island. The family and a flight attendant tested positive.

New Zealand will move to a red frame in its Covid-19 protective framework, with more mask-wearing. Indoor hospitality venues such as bars and restaurants and events such as weddings will be limited to 100 people. The limit is lowered to 25 people if sites do not use vaccine passes, Ms Ardern said.

“My wedding will not take place,” she told reporters, adding that she was sorry for anyone caught in a similar scenario. Ms Ardern had not revealed the date of her wedding, but it was rumored that it was imminent.

Asked by reporters how she felt about the annulment of her marriage to longtime partner and fishing show host Clarke Gayford, Ms Ardern replied: “Such is life.”

She added: “I am no different, dare I say it, from thousands of other New Zealanders who have had far more devastating effects felt by the pandemic, the most devastating of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are seriously ill. This will far, far exceed any sadness I feel.

New Zealand’s borders have been closed to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a gradual reopening from mid-January to the end of February over fears of a possible outbreak of Omicron like in neighboring Australia.

People able to travel to New Zealand under narrow exceptions must apply to stay in state-run quarantine facilities. Last week the government stopped issuing new slots amid an increase in the number of people arriving with Omicron.

Around 94% of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully immunized and around 56% of eligible people have received boosters.

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