Nobody is exempt from coronavirus restrictions – not even the Prime Minister.

Jacinda Ardern was turned away from a Wellington cafe, Olive, this morning because it had already reached its limit of customers under social distancing rules.

A post about the incident on Twitter drew a sheepish reply from Jacinda Ardern's partner Clarke Gayford.

"I have to take responsibility for this, I didn't get organised and book anywhere," he admitted.


But wait, the story has a happy ending. Shortly after the first couple was turned away, a space opened up, and staff from the restaurant caught up with them.

"Was very nice of them to chase us down the street when a spot freed up. A+ service," Gayford said.

Olive's owner was bemused by the media attention, but told the Herald it was nice "after all the drama and stress" of the past two months to be talking about "something light-hearted and fun".

He didn't want to give his name but confirmed Ardern was turned away by the restaurant manager, and then chased down the street a few minutes later when a table became free - something the owner said they did for other customers as well.

"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."

He wouldn't say what the Prime Minister ordered at the restaurant, which describes itself online as "an institution on Wellington's Cuba St".

But he confirmed the couple, who are engaged to be married, did not have their 23-month-old daughter, Neve, with them.

"[It was a] date brunch."


Cafe and restaurants, along with most other retailers, were not able to operate at all during the alert level 4 lockdown. Under level 3 they could only serve takeaways.

But after New Zealand stopped the spread of Covid-19, those restrictions were eased when the country moved to level 2 just before midnight on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister had, however, stipulated cafes and restaurants must follow strict social distancing rules and ensure contact tracing is in place.

Customers must be seated at distance from each other and be served at the table, rather than the counter.

But his staff felt no pressure with the Prime Minister in the restaurant this morning, Olive's owner said.

"We're following every one of the rules."