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    Jacinda Ardern is forced to apologise for taking a seemingly innocent photo – just hours before New Zealand is set to end its radical coronavirus lockdown

    • Jacinda Ardern had to apologise for taking a mass selfie during tours last week
    • She was pictured taking a selfie with supporters at a university and job site
    • Ms Ardern was forced to apologise, saying she ‘should have known better’
    • ‘In that particular photo I did make a mistake,’ she said during a press conference

    Jacinda Ardern has apologised for participating in selfies that have broken her own COVID-fighting social distancing measures.

    The Labour leader toured Massey University at Palmerston North on Thursday while campaigning for New Zealand‘s October 17 election.

    Ms Ardern was spotted through the windows of a laboratory and a large crowd quickly grew outside the facility’s exit.

    She was flooded by students and fans as she made her way to the campaign van and asked the crowd to back away but soon embraced it and took the photo.

    The New Zealand Prime Minister was pictured during a tour of Massey University (pictured) on Thursday last week while campaigning for New Zealand’s October 17 Election

    She was also caught-out while touring Isles Construction on the same day, stopping to pose for selfies with tradesmen and not keeping in line with social distancing.  

    The Labour Leader was in Auckland on Monday to announce the rollback of COVID-19 restrictions and admitted she should have known better.

    ‘All the way through on the campaign trail and even before during alert level settings, I work really hard not to shake people’s hands,’ she said.

    ‘I sanitise. I wear my mask in Auckland, and I work hard to try and keep my social distance.

    ‘In that particular photo I did make a mistake. I should have stepped further forward. I should have asked them to step apart from each other, and I acknowledge that.’

    Auckland, which was at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak that plunged New Zealand back into lockdown, will go into alert level 2 on Thursday.

    The rest of the country will lift its lockdown restrictions entirely from midnight on Monday, with just 62 active coronavirus cases in the country. 

    The New Zealand Prime Minister often takes selfies with supporters while campaigning

    The New Zealand Prime Minister often takes selfies with supporters while campaigning

    National leader Judith Collins said she had been ‘staggered’ to see the photos of Ms Ardern. 

    ‘I was staggered to see the Prime Minister clearly not socially distancing with no mask just the other day in Palmerston North in a level 2 lockdown,’ she said on Monday.

    Alert level settings outside of Auckland do not require masks to be worn but Ms Ardern continuously urges people to ‘be vigilant’ and socially distance when possible. 

    The COVID restrictions have been tough on the country’s politicians, who have been unable to reach voters in the means they’ve become accustomed to.

    Politicians have scrapped door knocking efforts, instead holding footpath meetings.

    Debate crowds have been scaled right back, with voters encouraged to watch online rather than attend in person.

    National leader Judith Collins said she had been 'staggered' to see the photos of Ms Ardern

    National leader Judith Collins said she had been ‘staggered’ to see the photos of Ms Ardern

    The Labour Leader was in Auckland on Monday to announce the rollback of COVID-19 restrictions and admitted she should have known better

    The Labour Leader was in Auckland on Monday to announce the rollback of COVID-19 restrictions and admitted she should have known better

    Rallies have also been held back until the end of the campaign.

    As of Tuesday, candidates and parties are free to hold gatherings of any size outside of Auckland.

    In the country’s biggest city, it is against the law to hold a gathering with more than 100 people, though this restriction is due to come offline on October 8, just nine days before election day.

    Deputy PM Winston Peters, who entered parliament in 1979, decried the restrictions, saying they made for ‘the worst campaign environment that I’ve been involved in’.

    Ms Ardern said the restrictions weren’t aimed at dampening campaign efforts.

    ‘None of our decision-making around these alert levels, actually are based on the politics or the campaign. They can’t be. They have to be about safety,’ she said.

    ‘There’s awkward moments where I refuse to shake people’s hands and try and keep distance.’ 

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