Norway’s prime minister broke her country’s Covid-19 rules by organising a 60th birthday dinner for 13 family members and will be fined, becoming the most high-profile politician worldwide to be sanctioned for breaching their own rules.
Norwegian police said they would fine Erna Solberg 20,000 Norwegian Krone (around 74,000 THB) to maintain public confidence in the rules used to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“The law is the same for everyone, but not everyone is the same,” said Ole Saeverud, police chief in Norway’s south-east district, on Friday.
He added: “Solberg is the country’s foremost leader, and has on numerous occasions fronted government decisions to counter the pandemic. Therefore it is considered appropriate to give out a punishment in order to maintain public confidence in the rules on infection control.”
Police judged Solberg to have been one of the organisers, along with her husband, of a family dinner in the ski resort of Geilo in February to mark her 60th birthday. She herself did not take part in the dinner as she had to return to Oslo for an emergency hospital appointment for an eye problem.
Neither her husband, Sindre Finnes, nor the restaurant the dinner took place in were fined as police judged it unnecessary. A second evening where Solberg herself participated, in an apartment rented by her and her husband, was not considered a breach of national Covid rules as they were unclear whether they included hired dwellings.
Solberg said on Friday that she would pay the fine and again apologised for her conduct. Last month she told state broadcaster NRK “I understand if people are upset or angry”.
Politicians in other countries have come under fire for potentially breaching pandemic rules and recommendations. Dan Eliasson resigned as head of Sweden’s civil contingencies agency for visiting his daughter in the Canary Islands at Christmas while Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven faced criticism for holiday shopping trips.
In the UK, Scottish MP Margaret Ferrier has been charged with culpable and reckless conduct after travelling from London to Glasgow following a positive Covid test result.