Finland’s Clubbing Premier Hurts Government’s Covid Credibility
(Bloomberg) -- Finland’s government is hemorrhaging credibility after the prime minister and three other cabinet members chose not to isolate following exposure to the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin earlier this week apologized for not cutting short her night on the town on Saturday after being told a minister she had been in contact with had tested positive for the virus. Her lapse of judgment prompted criticism from the opposition and newspapers as well as memes and disapproval on social media.
A video had emerged showing Marin, 36, at a club drinking a beer, which appears to be of the Corona brand. Marin said she didn’t recall what brand of beer she was drinking. The club, Butchers, which describes itself as an international oasis inspired by New York’s Meatpacking District, is located in Helsinki’s party street.
But according to local media reports, she wasn’t alone in flouting the government’s internal Covid guidelines of social distancing, putting to question whether the cabinet retains enough credibility to place restrictions on citizens and lead efforts to mitigate the pandemic.
Economy Minister Mika Lintila apologized after criticizing Marin’s actions, when it emerged he had visited an indoor sporting event knowing he had been exposed. Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen attended a banquet dinner and Trade Minister Ville Skinnari went to play ice hockey after receiving instructions to isolate, having come to contact with the virus at a Friday cabinet meeting.
The government’s internal rules are stricter than Finland’s official policy to ensure the cabinet’s ability to lead the country.
The ministers’ loss of moral authority comes just as infections are spreading. The burden on hospital’s intensive care units has doubled from the end of October. And the government may soon have to take over managing the pandemic measures currently handled by regional authorities.
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