Norway prime minister Erna Solberg apologises for breaking her own government's COVID rules

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By Matthew Holroyd
Erna Solberg apologised on Facebook for breaking the rules at a birthday celebration.
Erna Solberg apologised on Facebook for breaking the rules at a birthday celebration.   -  Copyright  Photo/Markus Schreiber

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg has apologised for breaking the country's COVID-19 regulations during her birthday celebrations last month.

She was joined by 13 other people for her 60th birthday meal at a restaurant in Geilo at the end of February.

Public gatherings in Norway are limited to a maximum of 10 people to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a lengthy post on Facebook, Solberg apologised for her actions and stated that she was "very sad about what has happened".

"For over a year I have asked every single one of you to follow rules and recommendations on infection protection," Solberg said.

"It rests a particularly great responsibility for me as Prime Minister to follow the rules and recommendations to the point, but now I'm the one who's done wrong."

Solberg admitted that 13 members of her family had dined at the Hallingstuene restaurant on February 26 at a winter sports resort in Geilo.

The prime minister said she herself was absent from the meal and had to travel to a hospital in Ullevål for treatment on her eyes.

But the next day, all 14 people gathered for a sushi meal at her rented flat, violating the country's rules for private gatherings.

"I'm very sorry. I think this is embarrassing, but I'm primarily sad because I know I have to lead as a particularly good example," Solberg said.

"I have tried to do that throughout this pandemic, but here I have made mistakes," she added, repeating that she had a "special responsibility" to follow the rules as prime minister.

"I'm sorry my family and I have broken the corona regulations, it should never have happened. We should of course also have followed all the recommendations, as I have asked you to."

She also acknowledged Norweigian citizens who had followed the COVID-19 regulations and were "angry and disappointed" with her actions.

The revelations sent shockwaves through social networks, with some online users calling for her resignation.

Police have also launched an investigation into the incident to establish if Solberg broke "local or national rules".

The affair is potentially embarrassing for the centre-right leader, who has been widely praised for her handling of the health crisis but is beginning to face criticism ahead of parliamentary elections on 13 September.

Solberg has been prime minister of Norway since 2013.

Additional sources • AFP