The announcement to extend the lockdown was made on Monday, Aug. 23, just as the country's Ministry of Health announced it had detected 35 new local infections of the fast-spreading vaccine-borne delta variant of COVID-19. This is the highest number of daily coronavirus cases in New Zealand since April last year.
The current post-vaccine COVID-19 outbreak has grown to 107 cases since the beginning of the lockdown. Ardern said the lockdown will continue until at least the end of the month in the Auckland Metro. This is the country's most populated metropolitan area and where most of the delta variant cases have been found.
"We do need more information. We need more certainty. We don't want to take any risks with delta," said Ardern. "If the world has taught us anything, it is to be cautious with this variant of COVID-19."
According to the current lockdown regulations, the entire nation will remain at "alert level four" until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 27. For the Auckland Metro, the alert level four status will remain in place until at least the end of the month. (Related: COVID-19 insanity: Jacinda Ardern locks down entire country of New Zealand over ONE "case" of covid… by this standard, the people will never taste freedom again.)
Alert level four is the country's highest level of lockdown. Under this level, everybody in New Zealand, regardless of vaccination status, is required to stay at home. They are only allowed to make physical contact with people in their household. Schools and businesses are shut down, and only essential services are allowed to remain operational.
"We don't yet believe that we have reached the peak of this outbreak or necessarily the edge of it," said Ardern during a press briefing. The prime minister was attempting to justify keeping the extreme lockdown in place and extending it. That does mean the safest option for all of us right now is to hold the course for longer."
There is great opposition to the extreme lockdown rules, especially among the country's legislators. But Ardern has successfully shut down all debate regarding the matter by suspending regular parliament sessions until the end of the lockdown.
"At a time when New Zealanders have the harshest lockdown in the world and have lost our freedoms because of the government's failure … this move by Jacinda Ardern is unfathomable," said Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins.
But during Ardern's latest briefing with the public, she acted like her policies were not being questioned.
"For now, everyone is in agreement … elimination is the strategy," she claimed. "There is no discussion or debate amongst any of us about that because that is the safest option for us."
New Zealand has a relatively low vaccination rate. As of Aug. 19, only around 23 percent of the country of five million is fully vaccinated. But the lockdown has provided Ardern and her government the opportunity to speed up the vaccination process, endangering more of her citizens.
On Sunday, Aug. 22, Ardern's government announced that it had administered a record-high 56,843 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This increased the country's vaccination rate by a full percentage point in just one day.
New Zealand is now vaccinating at a rate comparable to other Western nations. An analysis has found that at the current rate of vaccination the roll-out of vaccines would finish by early Jan. 2022, with around 90 percent of the country's eligible population receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines by November of this year.
But even despite the high vaccination rate, Ardern has so far avoided promising that vaccinating more New Zealanders would lead to a quick end to the lockdown. She has instead continued to call on citizens to get vaccinated.
Astrid Koornneef, the Ministry of Health's vaccination operations manager, even said the government plans to increase its vaccination record.
"Between 50,000 and 60,000 a day is what we're aiming for," she said.
If the vaccinations in New Zealand continue, it is unlikely that the discovery of new delta variant COVID-19 cases will cease. If this occurs, Ardern will have all the justification she needs to keep the lockdown in place.
Learn more about the New Zealand government's tyrannical response to the coronavirus by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.