New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern Initially Turned Away From Cafe Due to Full Capacity, After Country Eases Lockdown Restrictions

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was turned away from a café Saturday because it had already reached full capacity after the country eased lockdown restrictions.

Ardern and her partner Clarke Gayford attempted to get a seat in Olive, a café located in Wellington, the country's capital. The couple was turned away because the restaurant had reached the maximum amount of patrons allowed under social distancing measures before ultimately being seated in the restaurant, according to a report by The New Zealand Herald.

Gayford took to Twitter to reply to social media user with the handle @reinvention who seemed to witness the incident: "Omg Jacinda Ardern just tried to come into Olive and was rejected cause it's full." The tweet prompted this reply from Gayford: "I have to take responsibility for this, I didn't get organized and book anywhere. Was very nice of them to chase us down [street] when a spot freed up. A+ service."

I have to take responsibility for this, I didn't get organized and book anywhere. Was very nice of them to chase us down st when a spot freed up. A+ service.

— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) May 16, 2020

The restaurant owner told The New Zealand Herald the engaged couple was flagged down shortly after being turned away when a table became available. He said he was happy to talk about "something light-hearted and fun" after having to deal with the "drama and stress" of the pandemic.

"She had a lovely brunch and left half an hour later. She was lovely with all the staff ... [and] she was treated like a normal customer," the owner said.

New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2 Thursday in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, meaning businesses are allowed to reopen so long as "they can do it safely." People must still maintain social distancing measures as schools, restaurants, gyms, and other workplaces come back online. Social gatherings are also allowed and limited to 10 people.

"COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe," the government website detailing the meaning of Alert Level 2 states. "All businesses can operate if they can do so safely. Alternative ways of working are still encouraged where possible."

Alert Level 2 went into effect at the stroke of midnight Thursday and one barbershop owner said he received approximately 50 requests for haircuts at that time, though he only took a dozen clients, according to a report by the Associated Press.

"People are saying their hair is out-of-control, they can't handle it anymore. Lots of parents of teenage kids have been calling up, too, thinking a haircut at midnight would be a great novelty. Unfortunately, we are full up," Conrad Fitz-Gerald, owner of Cathedral Junction Barbers in Christchurch.

New Zealand has reported 1,498 confirmed and probable cases of the novel coronavirus throughout the pandemic, and have only 49 currently active cases. The country has seen 1,428 recoveries and 21 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health website. There are currently only three patients hospitalized with the novel coronavirus in the country.

 Restrictions Ease As New Zealand Moves To First Phase Of COVID-19 Alert Level 2
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 16: People return to shop and dine along Ponsonby Road on May 16, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand has eased restrictions under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, which is being introduced in three stages. Restaurants, cinemas, retail, playgrounds and gyms have been allowed to open with physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in place. New Zealand was placed under full lockdown on March 26 in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images) Phil Walter/Getty