New Zealand extended the pandemic blockade to late August, and the country’s rugby union team’s management agency cancelled several upcoming matches in the country and Australia.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday that the nationwide lockdown has been extended until at least August 24.

New Zealand this week reported its first Covid-19 case in a few months, which was related to a traveler from Sydney. It is believed that this triggered a series of Delta mutated infections in Auckland, but it was also what prompted the rapid decision to place the country under the most difficult lockdown conditions.

Ardern said officials are not sure about the extent of the outbreak, but admitted that it has spread beyond the city, including the capital Wellington.

On Friday, New Zealand reported 11 more cases in the past day, which pushed the number of cases related to the Auckland cluster to 31.

Auckland was originally scheduled to lift the blockade on August 24, but it may last longer. The National Cabinet will meet again on Monday to decide whether it needs to be postponed.

These restrictions have had an impact on major sporting events. The New Zealand Rugby Union stated that in late September and early October, several test matches of New Zealand’s top men’s and women’s teams against South African and Australian teams “will not be held in New Zealand.”

NZR stated that the decision was made based on the government’s recommendation that the South African National Rugby Team Springboks and the Australian Women’s National Rugby Team Wallaroos “cannot enter New Zealand to compete due to Covid-19 restrictions”.

NZR has decided not to send the All Blacks to Perth this weekend in preparation for the third game of the annual series of resentment matches with the Australian Kangaroos.


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