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New Zealand PM turned away from cafe as social distancing limits capacity

Jacinda Ardern has won wide praise for her handling of the pandemic.

Image: PA Images

NEW ZEALAND PRIME Minister Jacinda Ardern found out there are no exceptions when it comes to social distancing after she was turned away from a cafe because it was too full under coronavirus guidelines.

Ardern and her fiance Clarke Gayford decided to get brunch today at Olive, a restaurant in the capital Wellington, two days after the country relaxed many of its lockdown rules, including reopening restaurants.

But social distancing rules still apply and require groups to remain at least 3ft apart from each other, with many restaurants limiting their seating to comply with the rules.

It emerged on Twitter than the country’s leader had missed out on a seat, though she was later able to enjoy her meal after a table became available.

One witness wrote on the social media platform: “Omg Jacinda Ardern just tried to come into Olive and was rejected cause it’s full.”

Gayford responded: “I have to take responsibility for this, I didn’t get organised and book anywhere. Was very nice of them to chase us down st (street) when a spot freed up. A+ service.”

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A spokesman for Ardern’s office said in an email that waiting at a cafe is something anyone can experience during New Zealand’s virus restrictions, adding: “The PM says she just waits like everyone else.”

Ardern has been widely praised for her swift and decisive response to the pandemic. New Zealand closed its borders and instituted a strict lockdown in March, and has been largely successful in its goal of eliminating the virus.

Health authorities have reported just a single new case over the past five days. The country has confirmed a total of 1,498 cases, including 21 deaths.

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