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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.

Norwegian prime minister apologises after breaking own Covid-19 rules
Photo by PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP

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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A post shared by Erna Solberg (@erna_solberg)

“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.

READ MORE:These are Norways Covid-19 guidelines for the Easter holidays.

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.

Member comments

  1. She should resign. Other prominent people, in other countries, have done so. She has acted selfishly and, as a consequence, is not fit to lead a country out of the pandemic!

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RUSSIA

Norway says it hasn’t breached treaty by blocking Russian cargo to Svalbard

Norway is not breaching a century-old treaty covering the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard by blocking Russian cargo to the islands, the country's foreign minister said Wednesday after Moscow threatened retaliatory measures.

Norway says it hasn't breached treaty by blocking Russian cargo to Svalbard

“Norway does not violate the Svalbard Treaty,” foreign minister Anniken Huitfeldt told AFP. “Norway does not try to put obstacles in the way of supplies” to a Russian coal mining settlement in the area, she said, after Russia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Norway’s charge d’affaires over the issue.

Moscow accused Norway of disrupting the work of the Russian consulate general on Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard but allows citizens of more than 40 countries to exploit the islands’ potentially vast resources on an equal footing.

Moscow has long wanted a bigger say in the archipelago — which it insists on calling Spitsbergen rather than the Norwegian Svalbard – which has been a haunt of its hunters, whalers and fishermen since the 16th century. The Svalbard Treaty handing sovereignty to Norway was signed in 1920.

Huitfeldt argued the shipment that was stopped at the Norwegian-Russian border “has been stopped on the basis of the sanctions that prohibit Russian road transport companies from transporting goods on Norwegian territory”.

Goods transport “does not have to go via mainland Norway by Russian truck”, she said, suggesting other solutions could be found to supply the mining community.

Svalbard was exempt from a ban on port calls by Russian-flagged vessels, “and we have clearly signalled our willingness to consider a dispensation from the flight ban”, the minister said.

The situation in the town of Barentsburg, home to the Russian miners, was “normal”, she said.

“Residents have access to food and medicine,” Huitfeldt said. “It is not Norwegian policy to try to force Russian companies or citizens away from Svalbard, or to put obstacles in the way of the business that takes place in accordance with Norwegian laws and regulations.

“At the same time, Norway’s necessary reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine may also have practical consequences for Russian companies on Svalbard, as in Norway in general,” Huitfeldt said.

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