Finland’s 36-yr-old prime minister went clubbing until 4 am & didn’t see a Covid update


Scandinavian countries have the reputation as havens for people who work to live, not live to work. Those countries usually score highest on every poll of “happiest nations” and “people with true work/life balances.” This apparently even extends to their public servants. Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin is only 36 years old, and when she’s off the clock, she’s really off the damn clock. She’s exactly the kind of Finnish 30-something who clocks out of work and leaves her work phone at home while she goes out clubbing until 4 am. This alone is notable, but the story got even more interesting when you throw a Covid close-contact notification into the mix:

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has apologised for going clubbing after coming into close contact with a Covid-19 case. Sanna Marin went on a night out in Helsinki on Saturday, hours after her foreign minister had tested positive.

She was initially told she did not need to isolate because she had been fully vaccinated, but later missed a text that advised her to do so. Critics questioned her judgement for not isolating until testing negative.

The Social Democratic prime minister, 36, said the text message that advised her to avoid social contact was sent to her work phone, which she had left at home. When she saw the text on Sunday, she urgently sought a Covid test and the result came back negative.

At first Ms Marin defended her actions, arguing that she had followed the advice of her secretary of state, who informed her about the Covid exposure. But in a Facebook post on Monday, Ms Marin said she should have double-checked the guidance and used better judgement.

“I am very sorry for not understanding that I needed to do that,” she wrote. Under Finland’s Covid guidelines, anyone who is double-jabbed does not need to isolate if they come into contact with a positive case. But the guidelines do advise people to voluntarily avoid social contact if they are waiting for access to a Covid test. Separate guidelines for government ministers and employees also recommend limiting social contact immediately after exposure, according to Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

Speaking to reporters in parliament on Wednesday, Ms Marin said she had not been provided with this guidance. She said she took personal responsibility for the lack of information and again apologised for her actions. Ms Marin has faced criticism since a gossip magazine published photos of the prime minister attending a Helsinki nightclub with friends on Saturday.

The Seiska magazine said it spoke to witnesses who saw her dancing at the Butchers club, where she stayed until 04:00.

[From BBC]

Imagine being the prime minister of a whole-ass country and leaving your work phone at home as you party with friends in a nightclub until 4 am. That’s what I can’t get past! I mean, I sort of admire it. The prime minister is like “hey, my job isn’t my life, I’m going out to have fun, don’t call me because I won’t answer.” No one would have blinked an eye in Finland if not for the Covid stuff. Anyway, I do think that a prime minister should be more aware of the close-contact quarantine rules of her own country, but I do understand why she thought she would be fine too. She was double-vaxxed and it was a Saturday!


Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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95 Responses to “Finland’s 36-yr-old prime minister went clubbing until 4 am & didn’t see a Covid update”

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  1. Jenns says:

    Gotta respect anyone 35 and older who can stay out clubbing until 4am. If that were me, I’d be on life support.

    • Merricat says:

      Lol, same

    • Jay says:

      That was my first thought, too, lol!

    • Arpeggi says:

      I went to play boardgames at a friend’s new bf last weekend. It started late and the game finished at 3am. On my walk home, all I could think was: “who are these 40yo able to stay up until 4?!?”. Starting at 11:30, I was thinking of ways I could have excused myself and peace out to bed!

    • Becks1 says:

      that was my first reaction too, lol.

    • LadyMTL says:

      Add me to that list lol. My back hurts just thinking about still being up after midnight.

    • A.Key says:

      YES, hahaha, my first thought too!! I’m 35 and can’t imagine going out clubbing, you’d have to bribe me with obscene amounts of money

    • MMRB says:

      the “good old days” are now just “the old days”

    • terra says:

      I’m 34 and you couldn’t have paid me to go clubbing when I was 21!

    • Mia4s says:

      Oh thank god someone said it! I’m in that age range and now if I have something as simple as a flight getting in past midnight, it’s two extra cups of coffee minimum! Clubbing til 4? I’d die. 😂

      On one hand good for her living life. On the other? I feel like when you take on that level of responsibility there is an understandable expectation you will be reachable. She’s not a CEO or Director, she’s the prime minister of a whole freaking country. It’s…not a great look.

    • MerlinsMom1018 says:

      If it’s past 6 pm it ain’t happening

    • Korra says:

      I am more surprised that she is able to party that late with a 3-year-old child. But lots of childless people I know 35-45 have plenty of energy to stay up that late, lol.

    • observer says:

      i’m 30 and i can’t fathom this either lmao

    • Kaykay says:

      Can relate!

  2. Chergui says:

    On the scale of current scandals in the world, even the western world, this ranks pretty low. I think we could all learn something from the Nordic countries.

  3. T3PO says:

    I spend a lot of time in Scandinavian countries. Clubbing till 4am is not reserved d for the young nor is it as wild as it seems. When it’s bright all day long time has less meaning. Bars don’t close down. And clubs aren’t strobe lights and fog machines, they’re way more bars and dancing which everyone does there. I agree she should have had her phone but I doubt this is what many Americans are imagining when we think of clubs. I’ve “clubbed” with Icelandic senators wearing a hoodie and comfy shoes.

    • Becks1 says:

      good point, I remember when I studied in Spain and one of my professors regularly came home at 5 am on the weekends. WE were hitting the nightclubs (as we think of them in the US) but she wasn’t, she was going to more of the bars-and-dancing venues like you’re describing (and she wasn’t the only 50 year old doing that lol.)

      Even then, when I was 20, I stayed out until 4 am very rarely, I just couldn’t handle that, lol.

    • idk says:

      Agreed and also, I’m not going to go after anyone in Finland chasing some serotonin in December. It’s DARK.

    • Desdemona says:

      In Portugal bars where you sit down, have a couple of drinks with friends and listen to a live concert or just music being played on the stereo are open until two a.m. That’s something I like doing with my friends. Go home at one or 2 in the morning. Clubs and discos only open at midnight to prep for the night and people start showing up after 2 a.m.

    • Faye G says:

      Agreed, I studied in Finland for a bit and the nightlife culture was different from the US. Also, I want to add ‘clubbing with Icelandic senators in hoodies’ to my bucket list 😆

  4. OriginalLala says:

    I’m her age and I haven’t been clubbing in nearly a decade!
    I have friends who moved to a Scandinavian country from Canada 2 years ago and they have experienced some really insane xenophobia and anti-foreigner behavior, it’s been an eye opener for sure to peel back some of the layers of living in a Scandinavian country as a non-native.

    • Kitten says:

      From what I’ve read, Scandinavian countries have insanely strict immigration laws so the xenophobia doesn’t surprise me all that much. Compared to the US, their populations are not very diverse. Sweden is 94% white for instance.

    • Smacd says:

      I’m black and was mostly ignored during my vacations in Sweden and Iceland but have an insane story of being treated like shit in a cafe in Odense, Denmark by an old lady who wanted my seat. Bad enough to make other Danes stare.
      All that supposed happiness was nowhere to be found, in my experience.

    • FhMom says:

      I’m friends with a Latino couple who traveled through Scandinavia and have a few bad stories to tell. I can’t ever look at those countries as utopian anymore. Plus, Sweden was a Covid nightmare for the elderly.

      But, party on PM.

    • observer says:

      i’m dating a scandinavian. they’re potentially utopian if you’re white or white-passing. otherwise, fuck off, basically.

    • L4Frimaire says:

      Wow these comments are an eye opener. Disappointed but so many countries coasting on good PR that doesn’t reflect their reality. This is why I side eye all those Bernie Bros and their socialist Scandinavian utopia BS.

      • Grace says:

        I’m white and have lived and studied in other countries but my own (Finland). Berlin was great – no matter where you came from, you just mixed in. In Great Britain I was told many times how we “bloody foreigners were taking the place over”, and in Austria many people seemed to live in the dark dim past where they still ruled a big empire and everyone with a non-Austrian background was worth less than a stray dog. So you can encounter xenophobia just everywhere, I’m afraid, and in many ways it’s part of our mind. Depending whom you ask, the reality is always different no matter where you are. For a long time Finland was a cut-off country far back in the north and whenever someone came from the “outside”, they more or less came to invade and exploit, and those times still live in the back of people’s minds, but I just hope we will find a way to put that attitude behind. Finland is geographically big and people in big cities are often used to live in a more diverse and less prejudiced environment than those in smaller societies in the countryside, but of course you can’t say everyone has the same way of thinking.

    • A.Key says:

      I think people outside of Europe forget or are not aware of how dramatically different that continent’s history is compared to other continents. We’re not the region of vast immigration we’re the region of emigration. People from Europe went to other continents, colonized, pillaged, killed and took over. People who stayed in Europe just continued to live in their own secluded isolated communities that haven’t changed racially, ethnically or culturally for over a millenium.
      So of course Europe is not multicultural and mixed. How would it be?
      UK is sort of an exception because it was be biggest and most successful colonizer so many former colonies’ populations went to the Queen’s motherland to look for a better life because they could thanks to it all being Commonwealth. Same goes for France and Francophone Afrique but to a less extent. Otherwise, Europe is made up of white Christian people predominantly because Europe hasn’t been colonized by others so that make-up of the population did not change since original tribes migrated here 2000 years ago.
      Sadly this means xenophobia and racism are everywhere because the large majority of the population across the continent just isn’t used to seeing people who are different from them.
      Now in this day and age this doesn’t cut as an excuse and what was once just a lack of education and experience of mixing with different cultures has been transformed into a tradition of hating anyone who looks different and being suspicious of them.
      So yeah, that’s why the current migrant and refugee crisis is a “crisis” because people are batshit afraid of “weird” looking people from other foreign places whose religion and cultures are quite different from traditional Euro-Christian white culture. And yes it’s a horrible shitshow.

  5. ncboudicca says:

    I find this so interesting and have so many questions, but primarily I’d like to know if the Finnish people are specifically upset because (a) their Prime Minister left her work phone at home (and does this habitually?); (b) why wouldn’t she have a contact tracing app only on both phones?; (c) she could have possibly been spreading COVID in a crowded club; or (d) that she was partying until 4a? Is it just one of those things, or all of them? Or is it really NONE of them, and this is just a tempest in a teapot?

    Side question: does she have a security detail, and couldn’t they be responsible maybe for holding her work phone for her?

    I have a really hard time with the idea of not being available for a work call, so I’m thinking these are some cool people for being able to draw that line between work and real life.

    • BeanieBean says:

      In my line of work, there’s nothing so important that it can’t wait until I’m on the clock. But we’re talking about a prime minister, she’s got to be available at all times. Geez Louise.

      • RoyalAssassin says:

        @BeanieBean: Yeah, but let’s be honest…it’s Finland: what matter of such great importance could ever happen there? Seriously. And this isn’t a criticism: I love countries who are under the radar and whose leaders go out and dance all night. How cool is this…and she’s 36…wtf?!!

  6. Becks1 says:

    My big question here is does she not have a personal cell phone? There has to be a way for the government to get in touch with her in the event of an emergency. Why didn’t they contact her on that?

    It sounds like they just sent a text to her work phone and that was it, so it doesn’t sound like it was deemed a very urgent matter by whoever contacted her, you know?

  7. Noki says:

    This is madness. The PM of a country tossing their communication device and only seeing it the next morning? Does she not atleast have aides who must stay on top of urgent updates and information?

    • Gold ladder says:

      Or have a bodyguard that can take calls?

    • MissMarirose says:

      I agree. Finland borders Russia, which is currently threatening to invade another neighboring country (Ukraine).

      It’s irresponsible for the PM to leave their work phone (which is presumably more secure than her other phone) at home.

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m Finnish. She did have a work phone with her, she has two and left the minister phone home as it’s security issue. That phone is only used for international goverment business. She was also able to be reached through her security detail.

      She followed the guidance she received earlier in the evening which was in line with official guidance.Two vaccines and live your life as you wish.

      She is a very popular left-wing politician who has done well and right-wing media is trying their best to oust her and make up scandals every damn week….

      • BeanieBean says:

        So if she had a work phone with her & her security detail with her, then how is it she didn’t get this notification? Who failed her?

      • CuriousCole says:

        Thank you @Ingrid! That helps clear up a lot.

      • Normades says:

        Thank you for your perspective. All the pearl clutching “I don’t/ I would never go clubbing!” is ridiculous here. I doubt that’s the full story and like you said is probably a story to smear a young popular WOMAN politician.

  8. A.Key says:

    I would admire her “no work after clocking out” attitude if she had a different job, but this is pretty irresponsible. What if there was a terrorist attack or a national emergency or an act of war?? Does she just ignore her country because it’s past working hours?? That seems crazy.
    “Hold the attack boys, their leader is in the club” …
    Also, does she not have security with her 24/7? Is she allowed to just go to clubs alone at night? What if someone attacked her?

    • ElleV says:

      lol all of this sounds very american – what if there was a terrorist attack? an act of war! an attack on her person!! … i’m guessing she has security personnel and serious threats wouldn’t be relayed as a text. let’s be real, a covid exposure alert is not on the same level as any of those situations, although it was dumb that whoever notified her didn’t ensure she got the message.

      • A.Key says:

        Only I’m not American and sadly Western Europe has been plague by terrorism even more than the US in the past decade. Anti-terrorist policies and measures are the normal, especially in UK, France, Germany, Spain and Scandinavia. A lunatic used a sword to kill people in Finland two months ago, and a week ago five extremists were arrested for planning a bomb attack which was luckily prevented. Then there’s the craziness with migrants camping on the border with Poland and being urged to cross on illegally in large numbers by Belarus and Russia, both of which have terrible diplomatic relations with EU. Finland particularly has a nasty relationship with its Eastern neighbors.
        Oh and there’s the infamous 2011 attack by the lunatic who managed to single-handedly kill almost 80 people in Norway.
        So yeah, forgive me for questioning her ability to react in an emergency situation that actually has quite a high probability of happening.

  9. teehee says:

    Can you imagine the stress of this position? I’d be out to major tuneout sessions on the regular.

    • Sam the Pink says:

      Then you shouldn’t be a Prime Minister (and maybe she shouldn’t, either).

      • teehee says:

        Way to put people on a pedestal and forget that no matter the responsibility given to someone, they too are humans and are not perfect. They need their escapes, too.

      • ElleV says:

        lol what’s wrong with dancing to blow off steam? how is that any different than exercising?

        this is a dumb mishap but the issue isn’t that she left her phone with state secrets at home (the right thing to do for security reasons) – it’s that the person alerting her didn’t ensure she received the message via security personnel etc

        it’s not like she saw the message and *ignored* it to go clubbing

      • Sam the Pink says:

        Nah, I’m cool with holding you to a higher standard if you are, by chance, the leader of a whole COUNTRY.

        Prime Minister is not a normal job. It is a job that is far more let’s say, rigorous, then most. If she wasn’t up to that challenge, she should not hold the position. I don’t get what is so hard about that.

      • teehee says:

        Cos its being blind to reality that no one is a machine —
        it sets you up for bitter disappointment- which I seem to be sensing here.

  10. Monica says:

    OK, not a smart move, but I still wish my ancestors had stayed in Finland instead of coming to the US, dammit.

    • Twin falls says:

      Same! My great grandparents on my dad’s side came to the US from Finland. I’d love to go visit one day…and maybe stay lol.

    • NotSoSocialB says:

      Same!!! DNA says I’m 74% Finn and 24% Swede and I would love to visit (and stay at this rate). My daughter loved Helsinki.

  11. Louise177 says:

    I’m put off by not having her phone. Although you never hear about Finland having a major issue, I would think the head of any country would be available 24/7. I don’t mean doing work but being reachable.

    • CuriousCole says:

      Totally understand your point but I encourage you to read the comments by Ingrid and Grace before solidifying your opinion of her.

  12. ML says:

    Years ago, we moved to a different Scandinavian country for a year, because my husband got a job at a large international company.
    The people at the _very_ highest positions in my husband’s company were available 24-7. Almost everyone else just worked their hours and that was it: it drove my husband flipping crazy. Also, when people went on vacation, they were literally gone for 4 weeks during the summer with no contact and often no back-up! That said, I’m side-eyeing the prime minister for being totally out of contact while clubbing. That does not ring entirely plausible for someone in her position, Finland or anywhere else in “the North.”

    • Grace says:

      To me, being gone for four weeks with no backup or being out of reach after office hours does not sound like the work environment I know here in Finland! I work for an international company and have to be reached during my holidays as well as after business hours, so do my colleagues and most friends who work for different companies.

    • Eleonora says:

      @ML, Seems like a very healthy attitude to me.

      When an ‘essential, important’ employee quits, the company…hires another one.

      All replaceable and no, companies don’t care.

      No reason to get crazy when people don’t work outside their working hours.
      If they don’t have a backup, question why the company doesn’t have one, not the employee who is rightly not working outside their working hours.

  13. girl_ninja says:

    F**king Legend. But girl keep your mobile on you.

  14. Grace says:

    Hi, I’m from Finland and have to say that for most people this is just a tempest in a teapot. To answer your questions, our government has no bodyguards. They lead very private lives in general. The prime Minister was called by an aide who gave her the information and guidance that she had no need to self-isolate. She had a work phone with her, but that was the one she has as an MP. The other phone, the one she uses as a Prime Minister, was left home, and a text with rules contradictory to those given by the aide were later sent to that phone. She’s since taken two COVID tests, which were negative, and apologized for not having familiarized herself with self-isolation rules given to the government, which are different from those we normal people have to follow.

    • ncboudicca says:

      That is really interesting, thanks Grace!

    • Katie says:

      Thanks for the background!

    • ML says:

      @Grace, Thanks for setting the record straight. This is a tempest in a teapot.

    • WithTheAmerican says:

      What? A government holding itself to higher standards than it holds the people? Must be left wingers in charge.

      Hope you guys are taking refugees from the US in three years.

      • Grace says:

        I don’t think our government holds itself to a higher standard than the “normal” people. It’s just that it’d be difficult to run a country if the whole government ended up in life support, so they’re obviously expected to be extra careful with self-isolation rules if they’ve been exposed to COVID. I can understand why although I don’t always agree with our government. But really, it’s mostly been the press having a field day with this. Most people don’t care, we’re used to our politicians living pretty much like everyone else. Personally I’ve been to restaurants, hairdresser and shops at the same time as our top politicians and really, we hardly notice them. Once someone talked to me in a shop and I thought his voice sounded familiar. When I turned I saw it was the president-:-D.

      • Bettyrose says:

        Withtheamerican-I know that was a joke but we all need to stop acting like the return of fascism is a fair accompli in three years. We’re not even one year into this presidency.

  15. Case says:

    She seems cool and I love that she’s not working 24/7 despite having such an important job. BUT she should be reachable no matter what. Even when I’m taking PTO I still check my texts and emails periodically in case of a work emergency, and I don’t have a crucial government job!

  16. Bettyrose says:

    I was still clubbing well into my 30s (pre pandemic was still doing the odd night in my 40s) but I’d be mortified if my work ever found out. Findland sounds great.

  17. antanina says:

    MissMarirose, if you gonna talk politics and geography of Europe, at least know the subject. Ukraine is quite far from Finland and has got nothing to do with it. Putin has been a threat to our north and east countries for a very long time now. What he is doing now, is nothing new. Also, he would attack Baltic state countries after Ukraine, not Finland.

  18. MY3CENTS says:

    I just love the fact that they have a 36 year old female PM that’s all.

  19. Andrea says:

    Canadians seem very adverse to going out in their 30’s and 40’s. I have been in Toronto 10 years and could only get my Irish friends to go out with me (then they moved back to Ireland because they found the winters here isolating; no one wanted to go out). My Canadian friends only want to do dinner or a day winery. Totally different when I go to Ireland or the US and go bar/club hopping. I am 40 btw.

    • Caramel says:

      So true. I live in Canada and still go clubbing when I feel like getting dressed up and dancing. People think I am crazy! I lived in UK for years and everyone goes clubbing. Luckily I have a good group of fun like minded friends who knows life doesn’t stop because you turn 40, get married or have kids! I am all those things and still enjoy a fun night out with like minded folks in my age range.

      • Andrea says:

        @Caramel Sadly, most women up here I know aren’t trusted going out on their own and/or don’t wanna go out to possibly ruin the marriage. They seem a bit desperate to hold onto their father of their kids or for financial reasons and really scared of being left or finding someone better (and thus ruining their present lifestyle). It is quite sad all around. You are correct. It seems like once you find the partner, your life is over up here. Why I now want to find a partner because I don’t have close friends to rely on due to the mentality. Lol I just wanna have fun!

      • Nikki* says:

        I just can’t go out at night in the cold and dark: too lazy to brave winter! But in summer I will!

    • L4Frimaire says:

      Last time I went clubbing was a few years ago for a friends 40th/45, can’t remember. Anyway, we were the oldest people there, had bottle service and drank and danced a lot, and took me a whole day to recover and get off the floor. It was fun but oh my god, this is why I need to get into jazz clubs or start going to the symphony,lol. I’m such a lightweight now.

      • Andrea says:

        Just don’t drink. I can stay out late and just not drink. There are great mocktails now where someone can think you are drinking when you aren’t.

  20. Lucille says:

    Clubbing until 4 am is nothing crazy in Europe. It’s quite an average time for clubbing I’d say. If she didn’t do anything against the law I don’t see a problem here.

  21. Stef says:

    She’s really something to admire on a few different levels, and I’m here for it!

    Clubbing until 4am in Europe in your 30’s is no big deal. North Americans can be so uptight with that sort of thing. I noticed this when I lived in Europe for 3 years and saw just how vastly different cultural norms were regarding age, gender, family expectations, marriage, child rearing, alcohol consumption, and being free to party as a responsible adult, if you so choose. Carnival and Oktoberfest and two good examples of that – it’s not about how old you are, it’s about enjoying your life while partying responsibly. Work hard, play hard.

    Lover her and look forward to what she does next for Finland.

    • Becks1 says:

      I don’t think its necessarily about being uptight. there are a variety of reasons why I don’t go out clubbing anymore, or even out that late just to a bar or something (besides having kids) – I get up early for work on a regular basis, so its hard for me to sleep in. So even if I stay up “late” (midnight for me) I still wake up at 5 and even if I go back to sleep, its not good sleep and I’m up for the day by 7 or so, so I really only got 5 hours of solid sleep, if that.

      also, I live in the suburbs so if I want to go out and drink (even if i’m not planning on getting drunk), I need to uber or take a taxi (which can be $$ where I am to where I would want to go), if I lived in a more urban area I would go out more I think. I have friends who live in NYC and even with kids and being my age (40) they have very different social lives than me and I do think the city environment makes a big difference.

  22. Drea says:

    Pedantic note here!

    Finland is part of the Nordic countries, but is not considered Scandinavian.

  23. Faye G says:

    Wait what? I’m her age and I can barely stay out till 11pm lol. I used to love clubbing and dancing but it’s been ages. I went to a stadium concert last week and it took me like 4 days to recover. But good for her I guess!

  24. Ann says:

    Hmmmm. She made a big mistake, but it’s pretty amazing that a young woman has that job! On a shallow note, she’s beautiful IMO.

  25. Gracie says:

    Meh. I worked in politics for a while and the male politicians (in the US) looove to party late, they are just discreet about it (private parties vs. public, which can be a lot shadier). Female politicians in my experience have been overly buttoned-up, due to the impossible standards. She’s a human being and needed to release some stress. At least she’s not trying to hide it.

    • A.Key says:

      Thing is, people aren’t pressed she went out to party, people are surprised she left her work phone and was unavailable to reach. That’s the thing. Party all you want but stay reachable if your job is leading a country, you know? I’m sure all these male politicians partying privately are definitely available to reach in case something goes down, no matter how crazy the party gets.

  26. Mary says:

    Minor point, but Finland is not a Scandinavian country. It is a Nordic country.

  27. Margo Smith says:

    She should have know that if you come into close contact with a positive covid case, you should be tested. We all know this lol.