New Zealand celebrates 100 days without community transmission of COVID-19

Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party has released its first election policy ahead of New Zealand's 19 September election - business support to hire new workers in the COVID-hit economy.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Source: AAP

New Zealand has reached a major milestone in its fight against the coronavirus: 100 days without community transmission of the disease.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, out on the campaign trail ahead of the 19 September poll, welcomed the "significant" point on Sunday but warned Kiwis it would not prevent future outbreaks.

"I don't believe there is any other country that has had COVID, come into our position, and sustained it away from our borders for that period of time," she said.

"But it actually doesn't lessen any of the risks.

"That's daily as long as we are continuing to exist in a world where this pandemic is growing.

"We are still having to manage our borders very very carefully ... we still have to be vigilant."

Free of COVID restrictions on movement or gatherings for two months, life has returned to normal for New Zealanders, apart from tight border controls.

Ms Ardern has been given top marks by Kiwis for her government's response to the pandemic, enjoying record popularity after the tough but successful lockdown which eliminated COVID-19 and allowed the domestic economy to reopen.

The 40-year-old spent the morning at Grey Lynn in her Mount Albert electorate, visiting a farmers market and chatting to Sunday shoppers.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern campaigns at Grey Lynn Farmers Market in her Auckland electorate of Mount Albert.
Source: AAP

The Labour leader said it was "really heartening to hear business has picked back up" for stallholders, noting the "ingenuity" of businesses that had changed their operations because of the pandemic.

At Saturday's campaign launch, she warned voters to expect a "COVID election campaign" revolving around the country's ravaged economy.

Admitting previous plans are out the window, Ms Ardern said the six-week campaign would be all COVID, all the time.

"No one wants it this way," she said.

"It's more an acceptance that naturally, that is how this will turn out to be.

"Of course we all had plans for a very different election campaign but the reality is, this is the biggest challenge that New Zealand will face for decades to come.

"It's only right that we talk about our plan to respond, recover and rebuild."

Labour launched the first policy of the campaign on Saturday, a $NZ311 million ($A287 million) scheme that will see bonuses paid to businesses hiring out-of-work Kiwis.

Also on Sunday, TVNZ released a poll for the crunch seat of Northland, giving bad news for Labour's coalition partner NZ First.

The northernmost seat is the No.1 target of Winston Peters' party, which they must win if they are to defy public polling and return to parliament.

Unfortunately for them, candidate Shane Jones is running third on 15 per cent, behind incumbent National MP Matt King on 46 per cent and Labour candidate Willow-Jean Prime.

Ms Ardern said she did not intend to instruct Ms Prime to "run dead" in order to help NZ First, as has been suggested.

"We've said we wouldn't and New Zealand First hasn't asked. We're campaigning as different parties," Ms Ardern said.

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Published 9 August 2020 at 5:28pm, updated 9 August 2020 at 6:25pm
Source: AAP-SBS