Monday's papers: Kids unmask, expensive heat and the flight of hospitality workers

As temperatures drop, capital city residents are seeing heating prices rise.

Kids in grade 6 and up no longer need masks in school, according to public health institute THL. Image: Ari Haimakainen / Yle

News outlets across Finland report that Monday is the first back-to-school day for many pupils and students after the autumn break, and it's also the first day people vaccinated against Covid-19 can take off their masks inside schools, reports Swedish-language daily HBL (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

The Finnish institute for health and welfare (THL) has lifted its recommendation on masks in schools for pupils in grade 6 and up as of 25 October.

The paper writes that the risk of contracting coronavirus in daycares, schools and other educational institutions is now small, according to the THL.

This also means that school personnel are no longer required to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated against the virus. The THL, however, still recommends face masks for unvaccinated people over the age of 12.

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Helsinki's district heating hike

Helsinki City energy company Helen has raised district heating costs far more than other major cities in Finland, reports Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

In September Helen, which enjoys a near monopoly on district heating production in Helsinki, announced a 30 percent price increase through the end of the year. But this is just one hike of several during the past decade, according to HS.

From 2015 to 2020 Helen paid out 280 million euros in dividends to the city.

The paper suggests that Helen's prices have risen as a result of the city's lackadaisical approach to managing its energy company. It also suggests that Helsinki lacks a clear policy on whether Helen's role is to turn a profit for its owner or produce affordable district heating for residents.

Restaurant industry labour shortage

Finland's hospitality sector is struggling to find workers as it reopens, a development which may trigger wage rises in the sector, reports Taloussanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Finland has lifted most Covid restrictions on bars and restaurants, and the country's typically busy pre-Christmas party season is now gathering pace.

Taloussanomat, however, notes that precarious work situations over the past year and a half have led to up to a fifth of restaurant workers transitioning into other sectors.