SYDNEY - A memorial to commemorate the first anniversary of the deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand has been canceled because of fears over the new coronavirus.
Fifty-one people died when a gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch a year ago. The shootings in one of New Zealand’s biggest cities were broadcast live on Facebook.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country of 4.5 million had "fundamentally changed" since the atrocity. New gun laws restrict the number of high-powered weapons like those used in the attacks. The alleged shooter is expected to go on trial in June.
The government in Wellington has also announced tough quarantine measures to try to stop the spread of the disease.
Ardern said that starting midnight Sunday, almost everyone entering New Zealand must self-isolate to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
"We must go hard and we must go early," Ardern said. We must do everything we can to protect the health of New Zealanders. That is exactly why to tackle this global pandemic, cabinet made far-reaching and unprecedented decisions today, because these are unprecedented circumstances.”
Arrivals into New Zealand from the Pacific Islands will be exempt.
The government has said the quarantine measures are the strictest in the world and would be reviewed in 16 days. Ardern also said that no cruise liners would be allowed to dock in her country until June 30.
The group representing the cruise industry, the Cruise Association, has insisted the ban on passenger ships is draconian, and goes too far.
Essential air and ship deliveries will continue as normal, but the economic impact of the restrictions on New Zealand is expected to be severe. Details of a government stimulus package are expected early next week.