Norwegian prime minister apologises after breaking own Covid-19 rules
Police are launching an investigation into Prime Minister Erna Solberg's birthday celebrations, which breached local and national Covid-19 restrictions.
Reports emerged on Thursday that Solberg and her family celebrated her 60th birthday with family in Geilo, a ski resort in the south of the country, in late February. The family gathered two nights in a row.
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“On the basis of information that has appeared in the press, as well as the Prime Minister's own statements, the police have decided to initiate an investigation related to a possible violation of infection control regulations,” the South Eastern Police District said in a statement.
Thirteen members of the prime minister's family and entourage ate a restaurant in Geilo on Friday the February 25th. The national infection control rules at the time stated that no more than 10 people could be gathered in a private event at a restaurant.
The Prime Minister was not present at the meal that evening as she was having an eye check-up in Oslo, according to reports.
The following night, Saturday February 26th, Solberg was present as 14 people ate sushi in an apartment she had rented.
“I who every single day stand and tell people about infection control should have known the rules better. But the truth is that I did not check the rules thoroughly and did not realise that when a family goes out together and is a party larger than 10, then it is classed as an event.” Solberg told broadcaster NRK.
The Prime Minister violated section 13 of Norway's Covid-19 regulations by attending the meal with the group, according to Hans Fredik Marthinussen, a law professor at the University of Bergen. The section stipulates that private gathering for family, friends and acquaintances that take place in rented accommodation or borrowed premises are regulated as events. The maximum indoors limit is 10.
“It is quite shocking that she, as the one responsible for these rules, and who introduces serious measures, is not even aware of these measures that she has introduced,” he told NRK.
Health minister Bent Høie criticised his boss over the matter. “This should not have happened, and it is clear that we who make the rules and talk about the importance of them, must follow the rules and advice.” Høie told VG.
“I’m sorry my family and I have broken the corona regulations; it should never have happened. We should have followed the recommendations that I have asked you to follow," Solberg has said in an apology posted on Facebook.
“I especially think of those who have had to cancel things they have been looking forward to, a birthday with classmates, a celebration with friends and other important things. I understand those who are angry and disappointed with me. I've done wrong and for that I’m sorry,” the post read.
Operations Manager for the police in Buskerud, Øyvind Aas told NRK it’s likely Solberg will receive a fine if she is punished.