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Thursday's papers: Dancing ban, civil disobedience, farmers in despair

Some 140 Extinction Rebellion activists were detained on Wednesday.

Poliisit ja Elokapinan mielenosoittajat ovat vastakkain Eduskuntatalon edessä iltapimeällä.
The occupation of Mannerheimintie by Elokapina (Extinction Rebellion's Finnish branch) was broken up by police an hour after it started. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle
Yle News

Tabloid Iltalehti reports that Finland's so-called "dancing ban" will stay in effect until Covid vaccination coverage exceeds 80 percent, according to authorities. The current rules mean that staff at bars and restaurants need to ensure each customer sits in their own seat when indoors.

The tabloid writes that the public is now confused as to why the ban will continue to be in force despite the loosening of gathering restrictions at the beginning of October.

Gathering restrictions are set out by the "Avi" regional government agencies. Restaurant restrictions, on the other hand, are in the hands of the national government, which issues a weekly decree on what kind of restrictions apply, Iltalehti explains.

While the country anticipates the total lifting of coronavirus restrictions, slowing vaccination rates are causing concern, Helsingin Sanomat writes.

Achieving the goal of 80 percent coverage among those aged 12 and over in October is still possible, but it now rests on people's desire to get the jab, leading expert at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Mia Kontio told the daily paper.

Vaccination rates are looking good in older age groups with more than 90 percent of over-60s having received the first dose and 86 percent the second dose. Vaccine coverage is, however, lower in younger age groups.

"For example, among those aged 20 to 35, we are still well behind the target," Kontio said.

Mannerheimintie protest broken up, 140 activists detained

Police Finland detained some 141 activists of the Finnish branch of the global environmental movement Extinction Rebellion (Elokapina in Finnish), during Wednesday's Helsinki demonstration, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The environmental group kicked off their "Autumn Rebellion" at 6 pm on Wednesday by occupying the capital's main thoroughfare, Mannerheimintie. The protest was however deemed illegal by police and was broken up by authorities an hour after it started.

"The arrests were conducted peacefully," the department tweeted.

According to Elokapina, the demonstration is scheduled to last 10 days, unless the government responds to the movement's demand that it declare a climate emergency. Helsinki Police reportedly told Ilta-Sanomat that they are already preparing for the activists to return to the area in front of the Parliament building.

Agriculture sector facing "acute" crisis

Rising production costs and a poor harvest year will mean a challenging autumn lies ahead for farmers, Tampere-based Aamulehti reports. In proportion to the number of farms, the pork industry is suffering more than most, the paper writes.

A price increase by 20 cents per kilogram would offer some quick relief, pig farmer Reijo Keskinen told Aamulehti. "This would mean an additional 10 cents per meat portion of half a kilo. That should not be an insurmountable jump in my opinion," Keskinen said.

The Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK) wants more money for farmers. MTK chair Juha Marttila wants banks to ease up on financing policies for farmers who need some flexibility.

"The anguish is severe for many. We are not talking about months but weeks. Bills are piling up," Marttila told the paper. "The harvest is gone, the feed is still to be paid, investments in fertilisers and seeds are pending, but the banks are not handing out a penny," he added.

15:38 Correction: 80 percent coverage among those aged 12 and over in October, not whole population by October.

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