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APN Podcast: Back to school and hobbies as Finland finally rolls out mask guidelines

A long-trailed recommendation to use masks in public came after weeks of speculation.

Photo of Helsinki schoolyard featuring Yle News' All Points North logo
Due to coronavirus precautions, this Helsinki school only permitted one escort per pupil on the first day back after summer break. All Points North podcast - 13 August, 2020. Image: Tuulia Thynell / Yle

Weeks after hints about mask use were first floated, Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced on Thursday that her government supports a recommendation to use face masks on public transport and in situations where it is difficult for people to maintain a safe distance from each other.

You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here, Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed. Be sure to subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts and sign up for the APN newsletter.

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Audio: Yle News

Speaking at a press conference, Marin said that people will be expected to purchase their own masks, but asked local councils to provide masks for those who might struggle to buy them. The PM said that government would then reimburse local governments accordingly.

With students returning to school amid an uptick in travel-related coronavirus cases, APN looked at special arrangements for the start of the new academic year, and also considered the language learning options for students starting school in the first grade.

Although language learning in Finland is starting earlier than ever, there are not as many foreign language options available as one might think -- according to the National Agency for Education, 83 percent of children learn English as their first foreign language.

APN spoke with neurologist Minna Huotilainen, who recommends almost anything but English as an early foreign language.

This week's show also looks at the possibility of kids sustaining injuries playing football and other sports and ponders the benefits of hugging trees rather than people in the time of coronavirus.

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This week's show was presented by Denise Wall and Egan Richardson. Our producer was Mark B. Odom and the audio engineer was Mikko Majanen. Sign up for the All Points North newsletter and if you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, just contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook or Twitter accounts, or at and

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