Thursday's papers: Covid measures, Wolt's rich and poor, and Bosnia tensions

Covid case numbers have increased the pressure on the Finnish healthcare.

Vaccination remains key to Finland's Covid strategy. Image: AOP

Wednesday evening saw government leaders gather to discuss the Covid situation, amid rising infections and hospitalisations.

In the lead-up to the meeting, health officials in Kemi-Tornio and Kymenlaakso said they wanted new restrictions to slow the spread, while the Helsinki and Uusimaa region had already raised its alert level to the second-highest level.

On the agenda for ministers was the so-called 'emergency brake' mechanism, that is intended to be applied when Covid rates are not successfully managed by regional authorities currently in charge of applying restrictions.

That didn't happen, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) emerging from talks (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to say that current restrictions would remain in force, and from Monday regional agencies would be expected to renew current rules around restaurants.

There was one new news line, however, as Marin said the government would investigate the possibility of introducing Covid pass rules in the workplace.

"The solution is in raising the vaccine coverage rate," said Marin.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) said that she was looking at ways to ensure healthcare staff had been vaccinated.

Although Finland's Covid response has been relatively successful, compared to some countries, there is some criticism from advocates of a stronger approach.

Iltalehti reports on one such critic who said on Tuesday night that the government's Covid response was a "leadership, strategy and communications vacuum".

Tuuli Lappalainen, a professor in genomics who has been critical of the Finnish response from an early stage in the pandemic, said the government's handling of the pandemic was divorced from the epidemic situation.

She also criticised the split responsibility between regional authorities, who decide on some restrictions, and national government, who make laws and provide funding.

Wolt couriers ponder takeover

Helsingin Sanomat interviews (siirryt toiseen palveluun) a Wolt courier in the wake of the company's takeover by US rival DoorDash, which was announced on Tuesday evening.

The deal is worth some seven billion euros, but it is unlikely Andrei Grigore will see a piece of that. He says if he works 10-12 hour days, six days a week, he makes some 2,500-3,000 euros a month before expenses as a courier.

Those expenses related to the job come to 600 euros, including petrol and insurance, and that's before tax, pension and social security contributions.

Wolt CEO Miki Kuusi, who adorned most of the coverage on Wednesday, made 2.2 million euros in 2020. Unlike the company's couriers, who are regarded as entrepreneurs and must pay their own pension and other employment costs, Kuusi is a Wolt employee.

Grigore has noted the distinction, and finds it curious that the takeover is happening in the middle of a legal claim aiming to redefine the couriers as employees.

"It's easy to take advantage of immigrants," said Grigore.

Finland fans heading to Bosnia

The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been in the news recently, with leaders of the Serbian part of the tripartite state announcing they plan to establish a separate military and intelligence outfit raising fears of renewed conflict.

Last week the international community's representative in Bosnia Christian Schmidt said (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the country is in danger of breaking up.

All of which makes it an interesting time for Finland to be heading there for a World Cup qualifier, which is due to take place on Saturday.

The Uutissuomalainen outlets have a story on fans planning to travel to the game, despite the instability there and the increasing Covid case count.

Finns in the story say they are vaccinated and don't see too much risk in the trip, but local authorities have said they don't want away fans at the match.

So as things stand, around 60 Finnish fans will be heading to Sarajevo but may be unable to get to Zenica, where the game will be played. Their section of the stadium won't be accessible, but they hope to be able to source tickets once they get to the town.