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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern cancels wedding as nation tightens restrictions

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern cancels wedding as nation tightens restrictions
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday said she has canceled her wedding as the nation has entered its highest level of COVID-19 restrictions after reporting a cluster of Omicron cases. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday announced that she has cacneled her wedding due to COVID-19 restrictions in the country.

During a COVID-19 press conference in which she said that the entire nation would move to its highest "red light" level of restrictions late Sunday night, she added that her wedding would not go ahead as planned.

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"I just join many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic," she said.

"I am no different to, dare I say it, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill," she added.

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The new restrictions came after authorities reported nine Omicron cases in Motueka in a single-family household after the family traveled to Auckland to attend a wedding, a funeral, an amusement park and a tourist attraction last weekend.

A flight attendant on the flight the family took also tested positive for a case of the Omicron variant and worked on four additional flights while infectious.

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New Zealand has reported a total of 52 deaths since the start of the pandemic along with 15,552 cases after adding 71 cases Sunday.

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Restrictions under "red" status in New Zealand limit hospitality venues to a capacity of 100 vaccinated people or 25 if vaccine passes are not being used and require masks in stores, public transport and schools.

Ardern insisted that the "red" restrictions are "not lockdown" and urged New Zealanders to get a vaccine booster shot.

"Our strategy is to slow the spread of Omicron down, this includes boosters and public health measures such as mask wearing and restrictions on gathering while keeping the pressure off our health system to protect those most at risk of getting sick," she said.

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