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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on August 12, Wellington, New Zealand. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand will defer the dissolution of Parliament “by at least a few days,” which would allow it to reconvene if needed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at a news conference Wednesday.

The dissolution of Parliament was scheduled to take place on Wednesday in a key step toward holding a national election on September 19. 

Ardern said that “no decision yet as you can imagine” has been taken regarding the postponement of the election. 

The announcement comes after New Zealand confirmed four new locally transmitted Covid-19 cases Tuesday, breaking the 102-day streak the country had gone without recording a local infection.

All four of the cases were found within one household in South Auckland, and none of them had recently traveled outside of New Zealand, according to New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield.

Elderly homes closed: Ardern also announced Wednesday that all retirement homes in New Zealand will be closed off in a bid to protect “vulnerable ” communities from the spread of coronavirus.

Ardern said all aged care facilities would be closed to everyone but staff and essential deliveries from noon local time Wednesday. 

“I realize how incredibly difficult this will be for those who have loved ones living in these facilities but it is the strongest way that we can protect and look after them,” Ardern said.

Mass testing: Speaking at the same news conference, Bloomfield said health officials have prepared “to test tens of thousands of people in the coming days, so we can see if there are anymore cases of Covid-19 in the community.” 

He added that New Zealand has over 270,000 coronavirus tests in stock, with the ability to process 12,000 tests per day. 

Back into lockdown: Auckland, the most populous city in New Zealand, was placed under level 3 restrictions following the confirmation of the new cases Tuesday. All non-essential businesses, including restaurants and bars, are closed, and residents are only allowed to leave home for essential activities such as grocery shopping. Schools in Auckland will also be closed for three days.

The rest of New Zealand went into level 2 restrictions, where businesses can remain open as long as they follow public health guidelines.

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