Jacinda Ardern turned away from cafe because it was at coronavirus capacity

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden was turned away from a cafe in Wellington which had reached its capacity to seat people due to social distancing measures.

Restaurants normally prioritise celebrities for seats in the hope it will encourage more customers to come inside.

But in New Zealand, which has kept a tight handle on COVID-19, even the head of government can’t get around the rules.

“Omg Jacinda Ardern just tried to come into Olive and was rejected cause it’s full,” a Twitter user called Joey claimed on Saturday.

Ms Adern’s partner, Clarke Gayford, confirmed the story, responding: “I have to take responsibility for this, I didn’t get organised and book anywhere.”

Fortunately the brunch was not lost, as Mr Gayford noted: “Was very nice of them to chase us down st when a spot freed up. A+ service.”

New Zealand eased its lockdown restrictions on Thursday, although gatherings remain limited and social distancing guidelines remain in place under what are being called level two restrictions.

During the pandemic, New Zealand created a numerical system which details the specific measures that are being taken to protect people and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It is known as the “Alert System” and ranges from levels one to four, with four being the most restrictive.

Level two allows for businesses to reopen safely, travel between regions and socialise with friends and family in groups of up to 10.

The country has reported only one new case of the virus since Tuesday, and more than 1,400 of the nearly 1,500 people who contracted the virus there have recovered, while 21 have died.

Most New Zealand schools are set to reopen on 18 May but bars will not reopen until 21 May, a decision that was prompted in part by the experience in South Korea, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases linked to nightclubs in Seoul.

Barbers and hairdressers have also reopened as part of the easing of restrictions.

However, releasing the budget on Thursday afternoon, Ms Ardern said the nation faced its most challenging economic conditions since the Great Depression.

“New Zealand is about to enter a very tough winter,” she said.

“But every winter eventually is followed by spring, and if we make the right choices we can get New Zealanders back to work and our economy moving quickly again.”

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