WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP): New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is postponing her wedding after announcing new COVID-19 restrictions Sunday following the discovery of nine cases of the omicron variant in a single family that flew to Auckland to attend a wedding.
The so-called “red setting” of the country’s pandemic response includes heightened measures such as required mask wearing and limits on gatherings. The restrictions will go into effect on Monday.
Ardern stressed that “red is not lockdown,” noting that businesses can remain open and people can still visit family and friends and move freely around the country.
“Our plan for managing omicron cases in the early stage remains the same as delta, where we will rapidly test, contact trace and isolate cases and contacts in order to slow the spread,” Ardern told reporters.
But her own wedding plans are on hold.
The 41-year-old prime minister was planning to tie the knot next weekend.
“I just join many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic and to anyone who’s caught up in that scenario, I am so sorry,” she said.
New Zealand had been among the few remaining countries to have avoided any outbreaks of the omicron variant, but Ardern acknowledged last week that an outbreak was inevitable given the high transmissibility of the variant.
The country has managed to contain the spread of the delta variant, with an average of about 20 new cases each day. It has seen an increasing number of people arriving into the country and going into mandatory quarantine who are infected with omicron.