Finland’s prime minister faces criticism for staying out clubbing till 4am despite Covid exposure

Sanna Marin says she is ‘really sorry’ for not using ‘better judgement’

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 08 December 2021 10:38 GMT
Finland prime minister Sanna Marin faces criticism for clubbing despite Covid exposure
Finland prime minister Sanna Marin faces criticism for clubbing despite Covid exposure (Reuters)

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Louise Thomas

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Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin has come under fire for partying at a nightclub despite knowing she had come in contact with foreign minister Pekka Haavisto who had contracted Covid-19.

Ms Marin, 36, issued a lengthy statement on Facebook on Monday, in which she said she was “really sorry” for her actions.

Photographs of her dancing with friends till about 4am at the Butchers nightclub in national capital Helsinki were published by Seiska, an entertainment magazine, sparking criticism.

“We [Ms Marin and her husband] had gone out for dinner, shopping in the city, saw our friends and spent time in the evening and [enjoyed the] night life as well. We had been asked about [Covid passports] in restaurants and all of our company had them,” Ms Marin said in her statement.

She said she had been informed about Mr Haavisto’s infection earlier that evening and was told that it was not necessary to quarantine as she was double vaccinated.

“I did not question the information I received because THL [the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare] has given a similar instruction to the citizens. If you have received [two vaccine jabs], those exposed will not, in principle, be subjected to a test or quarantine,” Ms Marin said in her statement.

She said that she had missed a text message on Saturday that urged those who had come in contact with Mr Haavisto to quarantine and get themselves tested.

“I received this information on Sunday and immediately applied for a test. The result was negative,” she said.

She claimed the error occurred because the message came on her state council phone, while she only had her parliament work phone on Saturday night.

“I should have used better judgement on Saturday night,” she said.

“I’m really sorry that I didn’t understand how to do this.”

Finland has recorded a total of 196,180 Covid cases and 1,384 deaths in the pandemic, according to the THL.

However, cases are now at an all-time high. The country reported 308 cases per million people in the last 14-day period.

It also recorded seven cases of infection by the omicron variant, after it confirmed its first infection from the new variant on 2 December, reported the Helsinki Times.

Ms Marin’s actions drew criticism from the opposition. Arja Juvonen, a member of parliament from the right-wing Finns party, told Finnish news website Yle that by leaving her phone at home, Ms Marin appeared indifferent and careless.

Christian Democrats chair and MP Sari Essayah said Ms Marin violated the ministry’s policy by leaving her phone behind.

Ms Marin has, however, received support from her Social Democratic Party for her actions, even as her coalition partners remained weary.

“She has the full support of the group behind her,” said Antti Lindtman, the party’s parliamentary group chair.

Finance minister Annika Saarikko, a member of the Centre Party which is a part of the coalition government, said she was not the right person to judge Ms Marin’s behaviour.

She added that the actions of an individual were not a matter of politics but rather individual discretion.

National Coalition Party MP Sari Sarkomaa said that it was important for people in positions of authority to strictly follow guidelines.

She added that she would have liked Ms Marin to have been more careful with her actions but did not elaborate further.

Ms Marin became Finland’s youngest ever prime minister in 2019. She leads a coalition government of five parties.

She has received criticism in the past about her social media posts and over parties organised by her.

Speaking to Yle in October, Ms Marin had said: “I’m a representative of the younger generation and yes, that’s reflected in the way I do my work and how I live.”

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