7.6 18:17 Officials: Re-opening of bars has gone smoothly
Authorities reported no major problems during the first weekend since bars and restaurants re-opened on Monday after nearly two months.
The Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland said on Sunday that its agents were out in force checking pubs and eateries over the weekend. It said that in general restaurateurs had followed guidelines and ensured proper distancing. No restaurants were closed although police had a mandate to do so due to violation of rules.
Restaurants may only allow in half as many customers as usual, and there must be a seat for each patron. Customers must be offered places to wash and disinfect their hands, and reminded to keep a safe distance from other customers and staff. Sales of alcoholic beverages must halt at 10pm and all premises must close by 11pm.
6.6 12:38 Death toll unchanged since Thursday
The national health agency THL has reported no new deaths related to Covid-19 on Friday or Saturday. The tally has been at 322 since Thursday, with one death each reported on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Meanwhile the number of patients in intensive care has been in the single digits since the beginning of the month, dropping by one on Saturday to seven. Altogether there were 39 people in hospital with the illness on Saturday, a dozen fewer than the day before.
5.6 19:07 President Niinistö to make remote provincial tour
Finland's President Sauli Niinistö announced plans today to remotely visit four different locations around Finland next week, and hear from locals about their experiences of adapting to the coronavirus pandemic.
Read more on this story here.
5.6 11:40 Workers in Finland lose €350m in income in April
Researchers said that that the sum of wages earned in April this year was five percent less than the same time last year, a development it described as a meaningful change. The analysis revealed that households lost the equivalent of 350 million euros in income in April alone due to furloughs triggered by the coronavirus crisis. Read more about the analysis here.
5.6 9:50 Friday's papers: Post-corona populist boost, virus didn't affect Helsinki schools
Among other news, the country's press pondered whether a post-coronavirus Finland will see an increase in populism and reported that coronavirus infections did not spread in Helsinki primary schools when they reopened last month. Read about these stories and more here.
4.6 21:46 All Points North this week: "I'm free"
Finland’s calibrated return to normalcy took a big leap forward this week, with some residents flocking to bars and restaurants not much unlike the fervour with which this year’s bumper crop of mosquitoes are swarming towards victims.
In this week's podcast we unpack the latest official recommendations on face mask use in Finland as the government and some scientists make conflicting recommendations ahead of a looming second wave of the pandemic. We also delve into a new coronavirus tracing app that Finland wants to launch in August.
APN also checks in on whether Finland is greening its Covid bailouts as the government just unveiled a fourth 5.5-billion-euro supplemental budget aimed at getting post-pandemic Finland back on its feet.
4.6 18:22 Commander: Crisis has not affected defence
According to the Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Timo Kivinen, Finland's defence preparedness has not suffered as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. While major field exercises have been postponed, the crisis has not impacted military preparedness, he says. Kivinen says that only 37 Finnish military personnel have fallen ill with the coronavirus.
More details in our story here.
4.6 15:47 Amphetamine use in Helsinki area hits record levels during crisis
The use of amphetamines in the capital region has tripled since 2013 and abuse of the addictive drug reached record levels during the coronavirus crisis, according to wastewater analysis by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Read more here.
4.6 13:27 Finland’s coronavirus tracing app to launch in August
A nationwide mobile app to trace the spread of the novel coronavirus is expected to be formally launched in Finland this August. According to Päivi Salo, who is the general secretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the government is aiming at presenting a bill to parliament enabling the launch of the app next week. Read more here.
4.6 11:54 Yle poll: SDP gets boost due to handling of coronavirus crisis
Support among probable voters for Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party grew by more than a percentage point to 23.2 percent in May, according to Yle's monthly political support poll. The continued increase in the SDP's popularity was due to satisfaction in how the government has handled the coronavirus epidemic crisis, according to research director Tuomo Turja from Taloustutkimus, the firm which carried out the survey. You can read more here.
3.6 20:51 Finnish gov't not issuing specific face mask use guidelines
Finland is not issuing specific recommendations on the use of face masks, the government announced on Wednesday evening, but said it would review the matter if the coronavirus epidemic situation worsens in the country. Read more here.
3.6 19:59 Opposition slams gov't for historic supplementary budget
Finland's two largest opposition parties, the right wing Finns Party and the centre-right National Coalition, have criticised the government's proposal for a fourth supplementary budget this spring. Opposition MPs accused the government of trying to make permanent spending hikes under the guise of coronavirus crisis funding. Read more here.
3.6 16:57 Rally Finland cancelled over coronavirus concerns
The board of AKK Sports, which organises the Finnish World Rally Championship (WRC), announced a decision on Wednesday to cancel this year’s event due to the coronavirus crisis. The event is Finland’s largest sporting occasion in terms of audience participation. Read more here.
3.6 15.15 Govt reveals further details of €5.5b supplementary budget
Finnish ministers announced plans to support sustainable housing and urban transport as part of the supplementary budget, which is intended to accelerate growth and prepare Finland for the post-pandemic future, at a press conference on Wednesday.
There is more on this story here.
3.6 11.15 Finnish researchers call for widespread mask use in open letter
In an open letter published (in Finnish) on Wednesday, a working group of 59 Finnish researchers appealed to the country’s population to use masks in order to slow down the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes a week after a government-appointed working group observed that the widespread use of face masks has little or no effect on reducing the spread of upper respiratory infections.
In the open letter, the researchers argued that the use of masks reduces the transmission of the virus by both symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. Thus, reducing the likelihood of mask users infecting others. Read the full story here.
3.6 9:20 Coronavirus crisis leads to spike in alcohol sales
According to a report in tabloid Ilta-Sanomat this morning, the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a 10 percent increase in sales for Finland's state-owned alcohol retailer Alko.
Alko’s business director Kari Pennanen told IS that "the coronavirus situation, reduced foreign travel and the closure of restaurants and bars have all increased sales" for the chain.
Read more on this story, and the rest of our paper review, here.
2.6 21:45 Gov't unveils historic €5.5b supplemental budget
Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government on Tuesday evening unveiled a record fourth 5.5-billion euro supplemental budget aimed at helping heal the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis.
In presenting the spending package however, Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni said that it would not be possible to avoid tax increases and reduced spending in the future. She also told reporters during a press conference that Finland would be borrowing an additional 18.8 billion euros this year to bankroll its programmes. Read the full story here.
2.6 20:40 Vantaa drive-in movie night draws capacity crowd
As Finnish society began returning to normal on Monday with the partial lifting of restrictions on public life, a different kind of event arrived to Vantaa when 80 cars filled a parking lot near Helsinki-Vantaa airport for a long-anticipated American-style drive-in movie screening. The event had been scheduled for spring but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more about it here.
2.6 19:25 Tests find virus in Helsinki, Turku wastewater
A study of municipal wastewater has identified novel coronavirus in samples from Helsinki and Turku, according to the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare. The public health agency said that it found no evidence of the virus in weekly monitoring samples in Tampere, Kuopio and Oulu. The most recently-released results are based on samples taken from 24 - 25 May. Read more here.
2.6 16:27 Majority of Finnish residents plan local holiday travel, survey says
More than half of Finnish residents say they plan to continue their tradition of domestic holiday trips this year, according to a survey by the Uutissuomalainen news group.
Forty-two percent of respondents said they plan to travel in Finland as they have done in the past, while 13 percent indicated they would be touring the country more than usual. Read more here.
2.6 14:50 Gov't science panel recommends mask use
A government-appointed scientific panel has recommended the use of protective masks in public and on public transportation to reduce the spread of coronavirus until a vaccine is found.
The panel noted that the risk for a second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic was significant. At the same time, work on an effective vaccine is widely expected to complete by next year at the earliest. Read the full account here.
2.6 14:25 Just two new coronavirus cases in Finland
The number of lab-confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Finland stands at 6,887 up by just two from Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The number of deaths stood at 318 as of Monday. That figure will be updated later on Tuesday.
2.6 9:21 Tuesday's papers: Terrace openings in cities across Finland as country opens up
Finland’s press reacts to a busy first day of summer as society reopened on Monday, read our press review here.
1.6 20:20 Patrons return as bars, restaurants reopen
Many people across the country were drawn to establishments following the easing of restrictions on restaurants, cafes and bars on Monday. In an effort to maintain social distancing, only half the normal number of customers are allowed inside restaurants at any given time. But there are no such restrictions regarding outdoor terraces. Read about how people across Finland reclaimed lost pleasures here.
1.6 19:15 Academic challenges ministry mask report
There is ample research to support the widespread use of masks by the public, contrary to a report on the issue by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, according to one Helsinki University academic.
Tarja Sironen, an associate professor with the university’s emerging infectious diseases unit said that the report produced by private health sector consultants Summaryx for the ministry did not provide a full picture of the value of masks in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Read our full story here.
1.6 18:56 Agency issues mask purchase guidelines
The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency Tukes has provided guidelines (in Finnish) to help consumers purchase homemade masks. The agency said on Monday that it had received dozens of questions about face coverings, which it said are incorrectly marketed as protective masks.
Tukes pointed out that fabric masks sold to consumers should not suggest that they will protect users against viral infections. The purpose of fabric masks is to protect others from the user’s spittle.
The watchdog has urged retailers and consumers to ensure that the purpose of the product is clearly stated and that use instructions make it clear to whom it is or is not suited, how it should be safely used and changed and how it should be cleaned.
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1.6 17:39 Report warns of grave second wave of pandemic
Government’s emergency planning should prepare for a possible second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that is more severe and more difficult to control than the first, according to a follow-up report to an exit strategy plan prepared for the government.
The warning came as Finance Ministry permanent secretary Martti Hetemäki presented the second part of a government-commissioned exit strategy plan on Monday. The document reportedly focuses on post-pandemic recovery and reconstruction. Read more about the report here.
1.6 16:12 THL downgrades death toll to 318
Finland’s death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic now stands at 318, instead of 320 as reported on Sunday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The agency said however that one additional death was recorded on Monday. Sixty-eight people were said to be receiving hospital treatment for the disease, with 9 of them in intensive care.
1.6 15:01 PM returns to work to tackle pandemic exit strategy
Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced via her Twitter account on Monday that she has returned to work after a week-long sick leave. The PM initially took three days off work starting from 25 May due to a cold, which was then extended on Thursday until the end of last week. Marin was also tested for coronavirus as a precautionary measure, and the result of the test was negative. Read more here.
1.6 13:50 Survey: Finns satisfied with coronavirus news and information
When it comes to official coronavirus-related news and information, Finnish residents have high levels of trust in authorities, according to a survey by the University of Helsinki.
The survey found that 92 percent of respondents said they trusted researchers and doctors who disseminate information about the viral epidemic. Roughly 60 percent said they thought news outlets were generally reliable, with higher trust placed in traditional outlets. Read the full story here.
1.6 9:22 Newspapers: Outdoor safety, lessons from Sweden, youth gatherings
As Finland takes its first tentative steps towards a return to normality, one paper asks how safe it will be outdoors as terraces reopen and people "rush to parks and picnic areas". Meanwhile, another paper headed to Stockholm to gain an insight into how the lifting of restrictions in Finland might look across the course of the summer. Read more about what the Finnish press is covering here.
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