World leaders are still running afoul of their own covid restrictions

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There's often outcry when a public figure eschews covid rules - but even more so when those breaking the rules are the same ones who set them.

How can the government expect the public to follow its restrictions when its top officials fail to do so, is the often-repeated question. In 2020, guideline-flouting officials faced backlash across the world - from New Zealand to Ireland to Canada to the United States.

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Among the most infamous U.S. cases, there was California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's attendance at a dinner at the lavish French Laundry in November of last year. The act was seen by some as the image of hypocrisy and elitism (it costs $350 per person) amid a pandemic and unemployment. "I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice," Newsom later said in an apology.

Earlier that year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's then-top aide Dominic Cummings defied the nation's lockdown for a 260-mile road trip while he and his wife were infected with the coronavirus.

In the Philippines in March 2020, a senator waiting for his coronavirus test result - which ended up positive - broke quarantine to visit the hospital where his wife was about to give birth. The hospital's chief slammed Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel for adding "to the burden of a hospital" trying to keep its head above water in its pandemic response.

As the pandemic persists, the cycle of rule-flouting, public outcry, followed by an official apology and sometimes, a resignation, continues.

On Saturday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin went clubbing - until 4 a.m., according to one report - only hours after a cabinet colleague and close contact tested positive for the coronavirus.

Photos of the maskless 36-year-old prime minister at a Helsinki nightclub went viral, prompting some disapproval from critics who deemed her actions irresponsible. Others on social media, however, just voiced their amazement and admiration at the leader's stamina.

After her foreign minister tested positive, Marin was advised that she would not have to quarantine because she was fully vaccinated. But afterward, she was given notice via text that she should quarantine after all. She had left her work phone home during her night out, however, and missed the text.

She did not violate federal public health rules: Fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine in Finland, but they are strongly advised to voluntarily avoid social gatherings.

Marin has since apologized for her actions. "I should have used better judgment on Saturday evening," she wrote on Facebook on Monday. "I am very sorry."

Johnson is embroiled in another scandal - this one with a Christmas theme.

At question this week was a 2020 Christmas party at 10 Downing Street, the British prime minister's office, in the midst of a strict coronavirus lockdown. Despite tabloid reports the party had a Secret Santa swap and Christmas quiz, Johnson denied there was a holiday gathering.

But a video surfaced late Tuesday of a mock news conference, where Downing Street officials rehearsed for questions about a Christmas party in a briefing with some aides, four days after the supposed gathering. In the leaked clip, Allegra Stratton, then a top spokesperson for Johnson, answered questions and responded sometimes with laughter, which was met with more laughter in the room.

Pressed for answers on the Christmas party by aides acting as journalists, Stratton said, "I went home." Then, asked if Johnson would condone such a party, she asked, "What's the answer?"

Another aide joked, "It wasn't a party; it was cheese and wine."

Stratton resigned from the government Wednesday and gave a tearful statement, saying she would regret the remarks "for the rest of my days."

Following the video's leak, Johnson issued an apology at the House of Commons. "I can understand how infuriating it must be to think that people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules because I was also furious to see that clip."

After the prime minister's apology, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, said that the "millions" who followed public health protocols last Christmas "now think the prime minister was taking them for fools, that they were lied to."

It's far from the first covid rule-related scandal the nation has faced. In June, Britain's married health minister resigned after he was caught "snogging" an aide - an affair that some called out for its public health hypocrisy since the two were not socially distanced.

In the midst of the increasing fear of the new omicron variant in late November, Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett urged Israelis to refrain from holiday travel. "If someone asked me, at the moment I wouldn't recommend flying abroad right now amid a level of uncertainty like this," Bennett said at a news conference. "That's the truth."

But a few days later, the prime minister's office announced that his wife and children had plans for an overseas vacation.

Facing backlash, Bennett said that he understood the criticism, but that a deeper understanding of the omicron variant has allowed public health officials to decide "to which countries travel is allowed and under what conditions," Haaretz reported.

Bennett's office announced that the family - now without the prime minister - had planned to head to one nation, but redirected plans after the destination was marked "red" for travel, reported the Times of Israel. Now, he said, Bennett's wife and children would go to a country where travel is allowed.

"I am open to criticism, and in this case I also accept it," Bennett wrote in a Dec. 3 Facebook post addressing the issue. "Not every criticism is a personal attack, and not every decision of ours is perfect."

He said that his family was seeking to have some respite during a tough year, and that the family had long been transparent about the plans.

Norwegian police in April fined the nation's prime minister after she broke social-distancing rules to celebrate her 60th birthday with a family gathering. Invited to the February event at a mountain resort were 13 relatives, even though a ban of gatherings of more than 10 people was in effect. The fine was around $2,352, reported Reuters.

In most cases, the police said they would not have issued a fine, but in this case, because Prime Minister Erna Solberg had taken a high profile role in imposing the restrictions, they did so "to uphold the general public's trust in the rules."

"Though the law is the same for all, all are not equal in front of the law," police Chief Ole Saeverud said to justify the fine, Reuters reported.

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