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Thursday’s papers: Closed borders, Rehn demands action, and a plea for pants

Finland’s press reports on the historic border closure, emergency economic measures and a request for fully-dressed dads.

Rajanylityspaikka Sallassa.
Finland's borders closed at midnight last night to non-essential travel. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Finland closed its borders at midnight last night to combat the spread of novel coronavirus, and tabloid Ilta-Sanomat was at Tornio on the border with Sweden in order to experience this "historic moment (siirryt toiseen palveluun)".

The tabloid writes that under the new regulations business-related travel across the border is not obstructed, but otherwise traffic to and from abroad is restricted to freight traffic and the return of Finnish citizens to Finland and foreign residents of Finland to their own country of origin.

Janne Kurvinen, Deputy Commander of the Border Guard of Lapland, told the tabloid that he wished to remind citizens that they have to consider themselves what is a necessary reason for crossing the border.

"In this new situation, we want to emphasise the citizen's own responsibilities. Is the need for them to travel across the border really necessary? We are striving to control the coronavirus situation, and everyone should carefully consider their own travel," Kurvinen told IS.

The tabloid also spoke to local resident Antti Kivekäs, who said he has lived on the border for 60 years and has never experienced anything like this before. Previously Kivekäs was able to move freely across the border to the Swedish side and back, but now he had to make a quick shopping trip to Haparanda in Sweden before the border closed.

"I went to buy juice and wine. And snus for my son. Now I am here to make sure the border is truly closed and that my mother-in-law stays on the Swedish side," Kivekäs joked.

Rehn demands ECB action, and they act

Helsingin Sanomat reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on the "extraordinary" demand by the Governor of the Bank of Finland, Olli Rehn, that the European Central Bank take further measures at alleviating the 'catastrophic risk' posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"The coronavirus pandemic is an external shock and is not due to the reckless financial management of any state," Rehn told HS. "What is needed now is European solidarity and not curling up in the trenches. This applies in particular to the ECB, which has to act with determination."

This statement is quite "exceptional", writes HS, as governors hardly ever take a public stance on what the ECB should do.

The words of Rehn, who is the former European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, seem to have had an immediate effect -- with HS reporting (siirryt toiseen palveluun) later that the ECB has now announced a 750 billion euro 'Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme' (PEPP). The PEPP is intended to hold down government bond interest rates and prevent a financial crisis.

"Extraordinary times require extraordinary action," HS quotes Christine Lagarde, President of the ECB, as saying on Twitter.

Caught with their pants down

With schools now closed nationwide in line with the government directive, tabloid Iltalehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on a request by one school principal that has raised much amusement and laughter online at this “otherwise bleak time”.

IL writes that on Wednesday morning, Marianne Liimatainen, Principal of Pikkola School in Kangasala, heard from her staff about one particular phenomenon arising from this new distance learning reality: dads with no pants.

Liimatainen took to Twitter to remind fathers of the dangers of underdressing while their children are on video calls.

"Hey, to the fathers of our school students! There was a wish from our staff that you could put on your pants as you relax in the background. One underpants-father has already been etched onto the retina," the Twitter post read.

The tweet has since been retweeted hundreds of times and received thousands of likes and funny replies, including messages from some of the mothers of the school's students.

"They said they had to also check to see if they had their pants on before they dared to laugh," Liimatainen said.

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