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Tuesday's papers: Visa issue, omicron jab, traffic sign stir

Helsingin Sanomat reports on how Finland might restrict issuing tourist visas for Russians, ahead of Tuesday's government discussion on the matter.

The E22 sign indicates a settled area, where the speed limit is automatically 50km/h. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

The Finnish government will discuss on Tuesday how to handle the issue of tourist visas for Russians, Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun)reports. It is expected that a political agreement will be reached in Tuesday's evening session, but formal decisions will not be made until later.

Despite the fact that Finland cannot stop issuing tourist visas to Russians altogether, Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has said other visa categories could be given priority over tourist visas.

"An arrangement like this could be implemented by the Foreign Ministry, which in our view would be in compliance with Schengen rules," Haavisto told the newspaper.

It is up to Finland to decide how much time it spends processing visa applications from Russia, HS writes. Since visas are only issued by appointment, Finland could reduce the number of visa applications by shortening the available processing times during which people can come to the office.

In March, MP Timo Heinonen of the opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) urged Finland to temporarily stop issuing visas to Russians. Finns Party chair Riikka Purra has also called for a complete suspension of visa issuance.

However, there are also completely opposing views, HS reports. Erkki Tuomioja (SDP), vice chair of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, has said he stands with Germany on this issue.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz argued on Monday that tourist visas should not be banned for all Russians because the war in Ukraine is "Putin's war".

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has stressed that she would like EU countries to decide together on restricting travel by Russian tourists.

Omicron vaccine expected in Finland

Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reports on the arrival of Moderna's new Covid vaccine to Finland. The vaccine works on both the omicron subvariant and the original form of the coronavirus.

Hanna Nohynek, chief physician at the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), said Finland will receive the vaccine once the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves it.

"We have stated in the EU's joint procurement agreements that we want the first variant-tailored vaccines in Finland as soon as they are approved. After approval, importation will take some weeks," Nohynek told IS.

The vaccine is expected to be effective against at least severe illness, Nohynek said, as it is more effective at raising antibodies against the variant than vaccines developed against the original form of the coronavirus.

According to Nohynek, the Moderna vaccine is targeted specifically at those who require booster doses.

E22 sign sparks discussion

A road sign is causing a stir among motorists in Helsinki, Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)reports.

Drivers have recently raised the issue to contribute to the discussion about the traffic problems caused by the E22 sign.

The sign indicates a settled area, where the speed limit is automatically 50km/h. As a result, there is no additional speed limit sign.

Readers discussed the sign in a Finnish driving and transport column, which IL picked up on.

One motorist wondered if tourists knew that the road signs indicated a speed limit.

Another commenter wrote that while most drivers will not intentionally break traffic rules, they should be made as easy to follow as possible, so a speed limit sign would be a good addition.

A third driver described the problems he had encountered when following the 50 km/h speed limit after noticing the E22 sign.

"I have encountered road rage when I myself correctly slowed down at the traffic sign," the motorist wrote.