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Friday's papers: Police ready for curfew, vaccination strategy, stormy weather

Finnish police say they are prepared to enforce possible restrictions on movement, but want clear, simple rules.

Kaksi poliisiautoa pysäköitynä peräkkäin lumisessa maisemassa oikeustalon edessä
Finnish police may find themselves enforcing new restrictions. Image: Matias Väänänen / Yle
Yle News

No decision has yet been made to impose restrictions on movement in Finland as a means to battle the current wave of coronavirus infections, but there have been multiple reports in recent weeks that the matter has been under consideration by the government.

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat reports that police officials are already prepared, however, to enforcement these measures, if they are rolled out.

National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen told the paper, however, that if restrictions are imposed, they should be so clear and simple that both the authorities and the public understand the rules.

While he expressed the hope that restrictions on movement are not brought into force, if they are, the police will do their best to carry out the task of supervising them.

Helsingin Sanomat notes that the leaders of government parties will be meeting on Friday to consider the next steps in the battle against the epidemic and will possibly be discussing restrictions on movement.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) told a press conference on Thursday that restrictions on movement have not been ruled out.

The issue was further highlighted on Thursday when Turku's Mayor Minna Arve filed a formal request for official assistance from the police in supervising quarantines during what she described as the city's worst outbreak of the virus.

Police Commissioner Kolehmainen told Helsingin Sanomat that he does not want to see a situation in which the police have to interpret the rules, or one in which police have to interrogate citizens about their comings and goings.

"Likewise, fines and other sanctions should be so simple that they can be understood by the police and the public," he added.

Reconsidering vaccination strategy

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat carries a review of a Thursday evening Yle television discussion in which members of the national vaccination expert group suggested a change in strategy that would shift supplies of vaccines to areas with the highest rates of coronavirus infection.

The CEO of Helsinki University Hospital, Juha Tuominen pointed out that there is wide regional variation, with infection rates in some areas ten or more times higher than in others.

As Ilta-Sanomat notes, these "red spots" on the map are mostly in the capital region, along main commuter routes.

Tuominen stated that the public public is entitled to equal protection, but he also interpreted this as meaning that more vaccine should be made available where it is most needed. He argued that with the right targeting, one-fifth of hospitalizations caused by the coronavirus could be avoided.

"This is important at the individual level, and this is also important at the community level," Tuominen pointed out.

The Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet writes that if a decision is made to refocus vaccination efforts and distribution of vaccines, the move would take three to four weeks at best to implement the new policy in practice.

Under this new new system, the vaccines would be distributed on the basis of population, number of new infections and hospitalizations in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Jyväskylä's Keskisuomalainen carries a survey by the Uutissuomalainen news group showing that the majority of hospital districts around the country are not in favour of vaccination strategy being changed.

According to the survey, 14 of the 20 hospital districts support the current vaccination schedule, at least in broad outline. Only in the Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district and in the Länsi-Pohja hospital district in Lapland was there clear support for change.

Farewell to Malmi Airport

Helsingin Sanomat carries a text and photo review (pay-walled) of aviation history at Helsinki's Malmi Airport, which saw its final flight last weekend.

Article continues after photo.

Malmin lentokentän päärakennus, etualalla pienkone.
Helsinki's Malmi Airport was long the country's most important aviation centre. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

Built in 1936, Malmi Airport over the years served both aviation enthusiasts and professionals. It was Helsinki's passenger air traffic airport until a new one was opened in the rural countryside of present-day Vantaa in 1952.

During the Second World War, Malmi Airport was used by both the Finnish Air Force and for some time also by the German Luftwaffe.

In recent years, Malmi has been Finland's second busiest airport in terms of flight volumes after Helsinki-Vantaa. This past year, the coronavirus pandemic, it again became the country's busiest when traffic at Helsinki-Vantaa slowed down.

The owner of the land, the City of Helsinki, has decided to build housing in the area. Part of the field along with its buildings are protected.

Stormy weekend

Iltalehti tells readers that while Friday temperatures remain below normal for the time of year, for the most part the day should be dry and sunny.

However the weekend will bring snowstorms and blustery winds.

High winds are forecast to start on Saturday bringing snow to central and southern regions. By Saturday night or early Sunday morning Kainuu, Koillismaa and southern Lapland can expect to see heavy snowfall that will hit southern parts of the country as both snow and sleet.

Parts of the north and east are likely to be hit by usually high gusts of wind on Sunday.

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