New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has canceled her wedding as the nation imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
New Zealand imposed mask rules and limited gatherings from midnight on Sunday (23 Jan), after a cluster of nine Omicron COVID-19 cases showed community transmission from the North to South islands following a wedding.
A family returned to Nelson in the South Island by plane 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 setting under its COVID-19 protection framework, with more mask wearing. Indoor hospitality settings such as bars and restaurants and events like weddings will be capped at 100 people.
Arden noted that the limit is lowered to 25 people if venues are not using vaccine passes.
When asked by reporters how she felt about the cancellation of her wedding to longtime partner and fishing-show host Clarke Gayford, Ardern replied: “Such is life.”
New Zealand’s borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February out of concern about a potential Omicron outbreak as in neighboring Australia.
People able to travel to New Zealand under narrow exceptions must apply to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities. The government last week stopped issuing any new slots amid a surge in the number of people arriving with Omicron.
About 94% of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated and about 56% of those eligible have had booster shots. (NNT)