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Friday's papers: Airport troubles, struggling poor, and love in the time of corona

Today's press examines risky airport congestion, the epidemic and the vulnerable, and socially-distant wedding vows.

File photo of people lining up at a Finnish food bank. Image: Yle
Yle News

Newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat’s top story collates criticisms towards the government’s handling of Finland’s coronavirus epidemic, particularly in regard to Finns returning from abroad.

Potential carriers of the virus have been standing in long queues at the airport before thronging into packed airport buses, according to IS.

The article suggests that communication between airport operator Finavia, Finnish health watchdog THL and government ministries has been lacking. An Yle poll published on Thursday, however, indicates high approval ratings for the president's and PM's handling of the epidemic.

Coronavirus and poverty

Around the world, coronavirus is compounding risks that disadvantaged groups already face. The epidemic’s effect on people’s lives depends partly on income.

HS visited a food bank in Helsinki’s Kontula suburb on Wednesday, where many of those in line belonged to risk groups, but didn’t keep a safe distance from one another. The food bank serves 150-200 customers daily.

“When your own life is full of problems, such as money and health, it’s difficult to become too concerned about this kind of big news story,” Anne Hietalahti of the Deaconess Foundation told HS.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many day centres supporting recovering addicts and those coping with mental illness have closed after the government banned gatherings of more than ten people.

Food pantries are also recognising deteriorating economic conditions brought on by coronavirus. A nursing student in the queue said the epidemic wiped out her job, bringing her income down to a 250-euro monthly student subsidy.

“It’s not enough to survive on. I come here a few times a week with my spouse. One bag lasts us several days,” she said.

Love in the time of corona

What’s it like to get married in the middle of an epidemic? HS followed one couple to the altar at Helsinki’s Lutheran Cathedral, where the pastor kept a two-metre distance to Petra and Marco Syväntö when they said, "I do."

The pair downsized their wedding to a few family members in an empty church and skipped their reception.

“We didn’t want coronavirus to stop us from getting married. We thought that life has to go on, including the good things,” Petra Syväntö said.

Between March and May, Helsinki parishes have 126 weddings and blessings on the books, with only 13 cancellations so far.

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