There are some PR crises unique to electing a charismatic millennial as head of state, as Finnish citizens learned this week when Prime Minister Sanna Marin had to apologize for going out until 4 a.m. last weekend after close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID.
She can explain: On Saturday, Marin, 36, went to a club in Helsinki hours after her foreign minister tested positive. While she was initially told she was not required to isolate because she is vaccinated, she missed a follow-up text informing her that she should avoid social contact because she left one of her work phones at home — which at least suggests the party she attended was pretty solid. According to Finnish tabloids that published a photo of her out on Saturday, she stayed out late at a club called Butchers, whose website boasts of being “inspired by New York’s Meatpacking District” and its “different but beautiful sitting areas.” Opposition figures, naturally, took the opportunity to call Marin “irresponsible,” though she may have had plenty of time to sleep it off: The sun rises after 9 a.m. in December in Helsinki.
Finland’s COVID guidelines dictate that anyone who has received two vaccine doses does not need to self-isolate if they are in contact with someone with the virus. “I did not question the information I received,” Marin wrote in a Facebook post regarding instructions on self-isolation. After seeing the text on a work phone on Sunday informing her she should seek out a test and self-isolate, she tested negative.
“I should have used better consideration on Saturday night and rehearse the instruction I got another time,” Marin concluded. “I’m really sorry that I didn’t understand how to do this.”
The youngest head of state in the world when she was elected in 2019, the social democrat is far from the only leader to get in trouble for their pandemic social life. (A tip to U.S. pols: Avoid the French Laundry.) Just this week, U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson caught some flak because his staff got together for a holiday party last December during the nation’s hard lockdown.