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Coronavirus updates 8.6-1.7.2020

1.7 19:45 Helsinki launches open-air dining in Senate Square

Helsinki city officials made good on a pledge by mayor Jan Vapaavuori by opening a large al fresco dining area in the capital's centrally-located Senate Square on Wednesday.

The city has described the 480-seat terrace as a unique experiment that will provide diners with a choice of eats and drinks from establishments ranging from burger joints to wine bars, bakeries and even world cuisine. Read more about the new summer dining venue here.

1.7 17:02 Crisis catapults PM into presidential election race

Finland's next presidential election is still nearly four years off, but a recent poll finds support shifting to a brand new player - the country's current Prime Minister and Social Democrat Sanna Marin, according to newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus. Marin, who ascended to her position at the end of last year, wasn't even mentioned in February's presidential candidate survey.

Voter approval for Marin's Social Democratic Party grew by more than one percentage-point to 23.2 percent in May, according to an Yle party support poll, which a researcher attributed to satisfaction with how the government has handled the coronavirus crisis. Read the full story about the contenders here.

1.7 13:07 22 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 22 new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. The total number of infections is now 7,236. The number of patients in hospital was 23 as of Tuesday, 30 June. The death toll has remained at 328 since Friday, 26 June. The THL has indicated that in future, it will provide further updates on hospitalisations and fatalities from the virus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

1.7 12:05 Public gatherings of 500+ now permitted, but with conditions

Coronavirus-related government restrictions on public events in Finland of more than 500 people were relaxed, starting Wednesday, 1 July. The change affects sporting events such as football matches, but will also apply to festivals, summer events and other cultural occasions. Read the details here.

1.7 9:31 University makes masks compulsory for exam students

Tampere University has told students they must wear face masks when they attend exams in August. This is despite Finland's government issuing no recommendation on the compulsory use of masks.

Read this story and more in our paper review.

1.7 8:04 Top flight football returns to Finland after coronavirus delay

Finland's Veikkausliiga finally returns today after a 241 day absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Check out our story here to find out how a club promoted to the top tier has been dealing with the exceptional circumstances, and its hopes for the season ahead.

30.6 20:07 Long queues for Suomenlinna ferries raise coronavirus concerns

Long, crowded queues for ferries that shuttle to and from one of Helsinki's most popular tourist destinations, Suomenlinna island, have raised concerns about possible coronavirus infection risks. Coronavirus-related restrictions on large groups are still in place and Suomenlinna Society board member Katja Pallasmaa said the recent deluge of tourists eager to see the island has confused both residents and as visitors. Read the story here.

30.6 13:47 Coronavirus detected in kids' paddling pool in Espoo

Espoo city officials said on Tuesday that an individual who used a paddling pool in the Tapiola district has tested positive for Covid-19. The city said that although the pool is not considered to be a contagious location, other users of the pool may have been exposed to the disease. Customers who used the facility are being urged to be on the alert for possible novel coronavirus symptoms.

30.6 13:35 Five new coronavirus cases in Finland

Five new lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Finland have taken the overall number of infections to 7,214, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL. Health officials in the Helsinki University hospital district HUS said on Monday that there were no longer any patients in intensive care and that the epidemic appeared to be slowing in Finland.

30.6 9:25 Paper flags three reasons for Covid-19 gains

Helsinki University hospital district (HUS) said on Monday that it no longer had any patients in intensive care with coronavirus, marking a landmark in Finland's handling of the epidemic.

HUS chief physician Asko Järvinen told Iltalehti that the milestone was due to three factors: early action to shut down, Finns' adherence to social distancing measures and the effective contract tracing measures implemented in the country. Read more about that story and others in our morning paper roundup here.

29.6 14:07 Helsinki to trial coronavirus breathalyser

Medical professionals at Helsinki’s Laakso health centre will begin testing a breathalysing unit which may be able to detect novel coronavirus infections. If proved to be successful, the unit will provide a diagnosis in two minutes and is likely to cost about two euros.

There is more on this story here.

29.6 12:50 11 new coronavirus cases confirmed

Finland reported 11 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the running total of infections to 7,209. The death toll from the disease stood at 328 as of Friday, 26 June.

29.6 12:19 Furloughed workers face uncertainty as 90-day layoff periods end

Thousands of workers who were furloughed or temporarily laid off when the coronavirus pandemic hit Finland in March face uncertainty over when -- or indeed if -- they can return to work. This is despite the maximum limit of 90 days for a temporary layoff expiring in the case of many workers.

There is more on this story here.

29.6 10:52 Finland considers joining coronavirus vaccine alliance

Finnish authorities are examining the possibility of joining an EU procurement project aimed at finding a vaccine for Covid-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus. The four-country alliance currently comprises of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

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Kuvassa tutkija katsoo tutkimusastiaansa.
Researchers in many countries have been working on a vaccine to protect against Covid-19. Image: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP

28.6 13:21 No new infections reported on Sunday

Health institute THL on Sunday said there were no new coronavirus cases in Finland after reporting seven new infections on Saturday. Confirmed cases in Finland now total 7,198 with a death toll of 328.

28.6 11:40 Finland records 59 drowning deaths

The Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation (FSL) says the coronavirus crisis and warm weather have driven people out on the water more than usual this year. More on this story here.

27.6 16:40 Physicians worry second wave could begin on western border

Northern Sweden’s coronavirus infection rate has accelerated in the past few weeks. This week alone, the Norrbotten region recorded 200 new infections, prompting health officials in Lapland and Western Ostrobothnia to request detailed information from Swedish authorities on how the virus is spreading in border communities. More on this story here.

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metromatkustajia, naisella maski
Metro passengers in Helsinki. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

27.6 13:15 Will e-scooters be the answer to social distancing?

Companies renting e-scooters in Finland say their vehicles continue to attract demand as commuters worry about social distancing on public transport. Read more here.

26.6 20:51 Are handshakes a thing of past? And virtual vacays the future?

With restrictions gradually lifting, and life in Finland returning to normal, we asked some specialists what changes we can expect to see in the post-pandemic Finland of the future.

Take a look at their predictions here.

26.6 19:07 Ohisalo says travel restrictions with Sweden to remain

Finland's Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said there would be no lifting of travel restrictions to and from Sweden until the rate of coronavirus infections in Sweden was less than eight per 100,000 people over a two-week period. Currently, Sweden's rate is in excess of 100 per 100,000 people.

There is more on this story here.

26.6 17:42 Corona crisis changed Finns' relationship to nature

A survey by the Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) and the Ministry of the Environment suggests that the coronavirus crisis has had an impact on Finnish residents' relationship with nature -- especially among people under the age of 25. The survey found an increased value being placed on the importance of nature and the environment as people spent more time outdoors during the spring.

There is more on the results of the survey here.

26.6 9:33 UK air bridge plan was news to Finland

On Thursday the BBC said the UK government was set to announce plans for 'air bridges' between Britain and numerous other countries, including Finland. However, our press review found that NewsNowFinland reports UK's the plan apparently made its way to the BBC before Finnish ministers were aware of it. Read the entire press review here.

25.6 17:02 Epidemic on the decline in Finland

The coronavirus epidemic is waning in Finland, according to officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), as only one new case per 100,000 residents was reported during the period June 15-21.

There is more on this story here.

25.6 15:41 Berry farms rely on domestic seasonal workers

The coronavirus pandemic has led to Finnish berry farmers having to rely on domestic labour to plug the gap left by the significant drop in the number of seasonal workers coming to Finland from abroad this summer.

One farmer in the eastern town of Imatra told Yle he received up to 400 applications for berry-picking positions at his farm, the vast majority of which came from the local area.

25.6 13:31 Finland prepares for a possible second wave

Although there is no guarantee that a second wave of the coronavirus is coming, preparations are still underway so that Finland is in a better position to deal with it than it was in the spring.

Read our story here on the five lessons Finland has learned from the experience of the first wave.

25.6 12:09 Five new cases in Finland on Thursday

There were a total of 7,172 lab-confirmed coronavirus infections in Finland as of Thursday, an increase of five from the previous day. according to National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

25.9 11:18 Finns look for domestic holidays as airports stand still

The coronavirus epidemic has disrupted most people's summer plans in one way or another, and the hospitality industry is one hard-hit sector. Statistics Finland says that air passenger numbers dropped 98 percent in May as people looked for holidays in their own countries.

Read our story here.

25.6 9:29 Remote working set to wind down

Earlier this week bosses from five big Finnish firms wrote to newspaper Kauppalehti asking that the government rescind the recommendation that people work from home wherever possible.

The government subsequently announced the recommendation would no longer apply from 1 August. KL reports that the five firms are now planning for workers to return to their offices. Elisa and VTT are still going to go back in September. Read our whole press review here.

24.6 18:24 Finland to lift travel restrictions based on infection ratios

The Finnish government's new guidelines on travel to and from Finland will now not require travellers to undergo 14 days of quarantine, but only if they arrive from countries with a maximum of eight new coronavirus diagnoses per 100,000 people over a two-week period.

This could open up Finland's borders with at least a further 12 European countries from July 13. Check out the list of possible countries that Finnish residents might be able to travel to and from here.

24.6 16:21 Migri to shut seven reception centres

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has announced plans to close seven reception centres across Finland as they failed to meet the 90 percent capacity rate required to remain open, as the number of people seeking asylum in Finland has plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There is more on this story here.

24.6 9:20 Cross-border corona worries and car-free zones

Yle News' paper review on Wednesday uncovered stories about corona worries on the Swedish border and Helsinki's decision to give way to pedestrians, among others.

According to daily Helsingin Sanomat, Finnish healthcare workers in the Tornio River Valley are worried about coronavirus spreading across the border from Sweden, following an outbreak in the Swedish municipality of Gällivare which reported 300 cases following a Midsummer outbreak. Read the whole review here.

23.6 19:05 Gov't calls off specific recommendations for over-70 set

The government said that due to an improvement in Finland's coronavirus infection rate, it was no longer issuing special recommendations for residents over the age of 70. At a press conference early Tuesday evening, Minister for Basic Services and Health, Krista Kiuru, said risk assessments were central to decision making regarding the restrictions which were put in place during the crisis over the spring. Read more here.

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Kuvassa lapsi ja vanhus juttelevat videoyhteyden avulla.
Distance visiting: A woman talks to her mother on a video call during the coronavirus crisis. File photo taken on 4 June. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

23.6 10:38 Nesa knew about debt problems

Ilta-Sanomat is reporting fresh details on the controversial mask contract that went to a heavily-indebted payday lender. Apparently the stockpile agency knew he had unpaid tax debts, but granted the deal and paid him nearly five million euros anyway.

Our write-up is here.

23.6 9:18 Finland 'stares at its toes' on EU negotiations

In this morning's paper roundup, we include an article in the business daily Kauppalehti critical of Finland's approach to the EU's 750 billion euros stimulus spending package, which is intended to help the European economy get back on its feet after the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the rest of our paper review here.

22.6 20:15 Hungry sushi lovers return as restaurant buffet ban lifted

The Luckiefun sushi restaurant in Helsinki's Pasila neighbourhood was busy on Monday, the same day a coronavirus-related ban on buffet service was lifted. Some customers were eating out for the very first time since government restrictions were tightened during the spring. But as a restaurant owner breathed a sigh of relief, a nightclub manager is still waiting to open for business. Read more here.

22.6 9:19 Finns split over adequacy of gov't emergency assistance

A poll in this morning's Helsingin Sanomat newspaper finds Finns split over how well the government has responded to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

There is more in our paper review here.

18:16 20.6 Coffee consumption still strong despite coronavirus

As more people work from home, coffee consumption has remained strong in Finland, according to retailers. We took a look at the history of Finland's love affair with coffee, and the way it has changed during the pandemic. Read more here.

17:55 19.6 Coronavirus stimulus summit deadlocked

There were 'no surprises' in a video conference held to discuss a proposal to pump 750 billion euros into the EU's economy, according to Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Our story is here.

17:10 No new cases in HUS region

Thursday saw a minor milestone in Finland's epidemic, as it was the first day when no new cases were recorded in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) since late February. HUS labs tested some 546 samples, but none of them turned out to be positive.

Our story is here.

16:35 MEPs criticise EU commission's coronavirus plan

Finland's Sanna Marin joins an EU summit by video link on Friday as heads of government aim to thrash out a 750 billion euro stimulus package.

Earlier this week a key parliamentary committee criticised the plan, and Marin is aiming to make some adjustments to the split between loans and grants in the package.

Yle asked five MEPs for their views, and found both support and opposition to the measures. Our story is here.

19.6 15:20 Debt counsellors concerned about post-corona payment problems

Counsellors from the Guarantee Foundation, which helps people in debt to navigate back to normality, say they are worried that some people might struggle to pay back debts run up during the coronavirus crisis.

Repayment holidays have been available on mortgages and other debts, and insurance companies have shown some mercy -- but those payments have been delayed, not written off. When they come due, counsellors fear people might be unable to pay.

Our story is here.

18.6 13:18 Government to extend entrepreneur benefit scheme

Yle News' podcast All Points North has learned that government is planning to extend coverage of entrepreneurs under the unemployment benefits scheme until the end of this year.

"A government proposal is in Parliament and it proposes that the benefit will be granted until the end of the year," Kela legal counsel Teija Hautera told APN. There is more on this story here.

17.6 20:20 Gov gives restaurants, hospitals more leeway

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's cabinet has lifted some restrictions on restaurants, hospitals and public events.

As of Monday, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to sell alcohol between 9am and 1am, and remain open until 4am. They may also serve up to 75 percent of their normal capacity indoors, as long as each customer has a seat. Restaurants will also once again be allowed to offer buffets.

Hospitals may allow visitors at their own discretion, and public events of more than 500 people will be allowed indoors or out without a special permit after 1 August. Details here.

17.6 17:39 Fishing soared in popularity amid epidemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread into Finland, demand for fishing permits rose sharply. In March, applications increased by as much as 50 percent compared to a year earlier, the state-owned environmental services firm Metsähallitus said on Wednesday.

Applications were up by more than 30 percent during April and May, the agency said. Find out more here.

17.6 16:50 Violent crimes spike during corona spring

Reported incidents of violent crime increased in Finland during the spring, says the National Police Board. There were more premeditated homicides and attempted homicides during the first five months of 2020 than in any comparable period over the past decade. Details here.

17.6 9:27 Second wave prevention

Finland's press on Wednesday reports about what Finland learned from the mistakes made during the first wave of the epidemic, as well as other stories. Read our press review here.

16.6. 16:13 Post-corona recovery will be slow, says ministry

The Finance Ministry forecasts a six-percent economic slump and higher unemployment this year – but says Finland's economy will slowly recover towards the end of this year. Next year, it forecasts growth of 2.5 percent.

Overall consumption will be down this year, but in the first half of 2021 consumption of goods and most services are expected to return to normal. Travel-related services will recover more slowly, according to the ministry. You can read more here.

16.6. 12:13 Food sector surviving corona crisis, but produce prices may rise

A new reports says food supply chain was not directly threatened by the epidemic crisis, but the conditions did pose a sort of stress test for the sector. The Natural Resources Centre forecasts the price of berries, fruit and vegetables could see increases by the end of the year. More on the report here.

16.6 9:18 Finland enters new phase in crisis

Tuesday morning's newspapers look at the end of the state of emergency, reviving travel and more. Kuopio's Savon Sanomat is among the papers that report Finland entering a new stage as the government's decision to lift state of emergency promoted by the coronavirus epidemic came into force on Tuesday. Read the whole review here.

15.6 20:01 Travel across Gulf of Finland starts up as restrictions lifted

There wasn't a deluge of passengers headed across the Gulf of Finland on Monday as coronavirus-related restrictions on travel between Finland and Estonia were officially lifted.

"This is the first time I'm on a business trip from Estonia to Finland since the crisis began. My clients are here and it's important that I meet them face to face, said Karel Saar, an engineering firm CEO told Yle as he arrived to Helsinki. Read more here.

15.6 16:24 Gov't lifts state of emergency, further relaxing restrictions

Government announced it is lifting use of Emergency Powers Act, which was implemented in mid-March to deal with the coronavirus epidemic. Finland will now return to normal conditions, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at a press conference in Helsinki on Monday.

"Based on the epidemiological and legal assessments we received, it can be stated that the conditions no longer exist for the emergency measures to be in use. The Emergency Powers Act and its implementing regulations will be revoked," Marin said.

Read more here.

15.6 9:40 Papers discuss possible lifting of emergency measures

The cabinet is meeting on Monday to review the need for emergency measures that are in force in Finland until the end of this month. The Turku daily Turun Sanomat is among the morning papers that look at what lifting measures imposed under the Act may mean.

After the government announced it is easing restrictions on travel to many nearby countries, Helsinki daily Helsingin Sanomat writes that the re-start of more normal travel is likely to create crowds at harbours and airports. Read the full daily roundup here.

14.6 18:15 Firms weigh workers' safe return to office

Many firms are planning for the time when employees will return to work after the summer holidays and after spending much of the spring telecommuting. But they are also considering how to make it safe for employees to return to the office. Finland’s public health authorities are recommending a safety distance of two metres between people when they return to the workplace. This means that all employees will not be able to return to work at the same time, but some will have to continue working remotely if social distancing is to be observed. Read our full story here.

14.6 16:17 PM says emergency measures could end soon

The Emergency Powers Act invoked to deal with the novel coronavirus epidemic in Finland will remain in force until the end of June, but the statute could be lifted before then, according to Prime Minister Sanna Marin. The Prime Minister said on Sunday afternoon that the government will meet on Monday to consider whether or not to extend the emergency measures invoked by the statute to curb the spread of novel coronavirus in Finland.Read more about the PM's comments here.

14.6 14:35 Crisis sees rise in spring drowning deaths

New statistics indicate that the number of drowning deaths this spring is already nearly double the number reported at the same time last year. So far this year, a total of 40 people have lost their lives in water- and ice-related incidents, compared to 24 last year and 19 in 2018.

According to the Finnish Swimming Teaching and Lifesaving Federation (FSL) the partial lockdown caused by the coronavirus crisis inspired people to take to the open ice and seas during the spring, resulting in a number of water-related fatalities. Read more about it here.

14.6 12:35 Norway open to visitors from Finland

The Norwegian government has said that the coronavirus epidemic in Finland, Denmark, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland is so well under control that there is no further need to restrict travel from these countries. The only exception to the relaxed rules has been Sweden with Oslo opting to retain curbs on cross-border travel with the Swedes. Read the full story here.

14.6 12:12 17 new coronavirus infections in Finland

Finland reported 17 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday 14 June, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). The total number of cases now stands at 7,104 with the death toll updated to 326 as of Sunday, one more than on Saturday.

14.6 11:07 US won't lead way out of crisis, ex-President says

The coronavirus pandemic is the first crisis in which there is no expectation that the United States will lead the world out of the dilemma, according to former President Tarja Halonen. In an interview with daily Helsingin Sanomat, Halonen said that the pandemic has revealed a geopolitical shift.

"This is the first crisis where there is no belief that the United States will lead us out. But of course the enemy -- or challenge -- is different and the pandemic has hit the US hard," Halonen said in the Sunday edition of the paper. Read our story here.

12.6 16:44 Gov seeks 25m in subsidies for shipping industry

The Finnish government is proposing nearly 25 million euros in support for shipping traffic, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Passenger ferries linking Finland to Sweden and Estonia, for instance, suffered a collapse in demand this spring due to travel restrictions.

The proposal would allow subsidies to both cargo and passenger shipping lines. Maritime deliveries are crucial to the Finnish economy, Transport Minister Timo Harakka said on Thursday. More details here.

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Rahtilaiva M/S ML Freyja Turun satamassa
Finland's shipping industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Jarmo Piironen / Turun satama

12.6 15:59 Gym customers file complaints over monthly fees despite closures

Finland’s consumer watchdog said it has received hundreds of complaints from gym goers who said fitness chains continued to bill them monthly during Finland’s coronavirus shutdown. Many gyms were closed for weeks this past spring, while some offered workout classes via video link. Our article is here.

12.6 15:29 Finland's continued travel restrictions ruffle feathers in Sweden

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Friday that relations between Finland and Sweden remained strong, despite his country's decision to keep coronavirus-related travel restrictions on its Nordic neighbour in place. Swedish interior minister Mikael Damberg said the decision was disappointing and caused some concern among those affected, but said it would not deteriorate overall relations between the two countries. The epidemic has hit Sweden harder than its Nordic and Baltic neighbours. Read more here.

12.6 9:26 Cottage sales boom slowdown

Our paper review examines business magazine Talouselämä's reversal of other news reports claiming that the demand for summer cottages is increasing during the coronavirus crisis. Read more about that and other news from Finland here.

11.6 19:21 Some summer festivals may still go ahead

The Finnish government said on Thursday that outdoor events with more than 500 people will be allowed as of 1 July with certain restrictions. In April it had banned all events with more than 500 attendees through the end of July.

The Finnish festivals association welcomes the lifting of restrictions, but says most of its members have already written this summer off. However some large events, such as Tampere’s Blockfest, may still go ahead. More here.

11.6 18:27 Business lobby: 90% of foreign entrepreneurs in Finland in trouble

This week our podcast explores how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting people of foreign background in Finland. Hear it here.

11.6 17:43 Pandemic creates backlog for civilian service

Hundreds of young men have not been able to complete basic training for alternative civilian service this spring because of the coronavirus crisis, the association representing conscripts said on Thursday. As a result candidates' stint of non-military service has been put on the back burner. You can read more about it here.

11.6 17:07 Amusements parks re-open

Tykkimäki Amusement Park in Kouvola was the first to reopen for the season on Wednesday. The Linnanmäki amusement park in Helsinki will open on Friday, seven weeks later than the scheduled opening date. Tampere’s Särkänniemi Amusement Park is to open the following day. The theme parks will follow precautionary measures such as limiting the number of admissions and maintaining a safe distance in queues for rides. More details here.

11.6 15:30 THL: Vast majority of Covid patients recovered

Of the 7,000-odd cases of Covid-19 which have been confirmed in Finland, an estimated 6,400 patients have recovered, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL. The number of infections in Finland has decreased, although there is daily variation in the figures, THL said at a conference hosted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Thursday. Read the full story here.

11.6 14:10 Gov't eases rules on cross-border travel, public events

Finnish residents will be able to travel to Baltic and most Nordic countries, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said during a press conference on Thursday. Ohisalo said that internal border controls would be lifted on travel between Finland and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Norway and Iceland and that it would be possible to travel to these countries without a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

Restrictions remain in place with regard to travel to Sweden and Russia however. Event organisers will also be able to stage large public events from 1 July, subject to special arrangements. Read the full story here.

11.6 9:50 Papers cover citizens' call for compulsory masks

Tired of conflicting messaging on mask usage from the government and health authorities in Finland, a grass roots group launched a citizen’s initiative last week calling for a law that makes the use of masks in public spaces obligatory. Dailies also provide heavy coverage of a controversial new book by a Finns Party think tank that received government funding for the project. Read the full daily roundup here.

10.6 20:38 Gov calls for billion-euro stimulus package

Finance Minister Matti Vanhanen has proposed that the state borrowing ceiling be raised to 150 billion euros due to the corona crisis.

The newly-minted minister defended the centre-left government’s record-large supplementary budget in Parliament on Wednesday. The supplementary budget totals a record 5.5 billion euros.

Vanhanen noted that some of the extra spending will go to repairing the damage done by the corona crisis and some to stimulating the economy. Under the plan, municipalities and healthcare districts will get a support package worth 1.4 billion euros, while about a billion goes to economic stimulus, 756 million will go to transport projects and another 300 million to corporate subsidies. Read more here.

10.6 16:24 HUS healthcare district may face €200m shortfall this year

The Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), which covers the region hardest hit by Covid-19, may suffer a deficit of 150–200 million euros this year. The healthcare district plans to use more digital services to overcome the fiscal shortfall and the backlog in appointments.

HUS’s CEO Juha Tuominen said on Wednesday that so far additional funding promised by the state will only cover about one third of the income losses. For more details on what this will mean for patients, read our article here.

10.6 12:28 HBO buys Finnish short film series on coronavirus experiences

The subscription-based TV network HBO has commissioned its first ever original Finnish production. The series, entitled Isolated (Eristyksissä in Finnish), comprises seven separate short films directed by seven Finnish directors on the subject of adapting to life during the coronavirus pandemic.

10.6 11:07 Finland's divorce rate decreasing

Data collected from district courts around Finland suggests that the divorce rate, which had been believed to be spiking during the coronavirus pandemic, is in fact decreasing.

Read more from our story here.

9.6 19:09 Home sales fall by one-third but prices hold steady

The coronavirus crisis took a toll on Finland's real estate market in May compared to the same time a year ago, according to the Central Federation of Finnish Real Estate Agencies. However, housing prices were not hurt by the coronavirus crisis, according to the Central Federation of Finnish Real Estate Agencies. Read more here.

9.6 18:00 Bank of Finland: Economy to shrink 7% this year

Economic activity in Finland will decline sharply as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Bank of Finland said in a fresh 2020-2022 economic forecast released on Tuesday.

According to the forecast, the local economy will contract by about seven percent this year. However the central bank projected growth of around three percent in 2021 and 2022, adding the disclaimer that the forecast involved an exceptionally large degree of uncertainty. Read more here.

9.6 17:45 Cinemas, film festivals to receive €1m in crisis stipends

Movie theatre operators and film festivals which have been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis are to share a one-million-euro support package from the Finnish Film Foundation, according to news service STT.

A total of 74 companies and organisations have been granted support. Some of the firms receiving stipends operate several cinemas. Companies that will get support include Bio Rex Cinemas as well as movie house operator Savon kinot.

Film festivals including Espoo Ciné, Helsinki film festival Night Visions and the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä also received a share of the support, according to STT.

9.6 12:58 Finland reports 24 new cases, one additional coronavirus death

Finland reported 24 new lab-confirmed novel coronavirus cases on Tuesday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, bringing the running count to 7,025.

The agency also reported one new fatality from Covid-19, making the death toll 324. The number of people receiving hospital treatment was said to be 28, with four in intensive care.

9.6 12:50 Mixed signals over distancing in public transport

Guidelines provided by the public health agency THL on how to safely use public transport during the pandemic will not be written into law, according to Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka, as the advice is generally accepted by all public transport operators and no separate legislation is therefore required.

Research professor Hannu Kiviranta was involved in the drafting of THL's instructions for public transport, and told Yle that the issue of how safe it is to travel is a "difficult question to answer". Read more in our full report here.

9.6 10:05 Foreign students face uncertainty during crisis

Disrupted classes, a dire shortage of jobs and an uncertain future — students in Finland are grappling with the debilitating effects of the pandemic on their lives. Some of the worst-hit are international students struggling to sustain themselves on a tight budget. Summer and part-time jobs are often crucial to help cover expenses, but such opportunities have largely disappeared this year. Read more in an Yle News original report here.

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Helsingin yliopiston kirjasto
As of 2017, there were over 20,000 foreign students studying a complete degree course in Finland, 75 percent of them from non-EU/EEA countries. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

9.6 09:14 Calls for full reopening of border with Sweden and Norway

Municipalities and the local business community in Finland have called on the government to fully reopen the border with Sweden and Norway, as its continued closure is causing economic problems for Finnish Lapland, according to a report in local newspaper Lapin Kansa this morning.

Read the rest of our paper review here.

8.6 16:57 Nearly one-in-seven confirmed Covid-19 cases were healthcare workers

Some 949 out of Finland's 7,001 confirmed coronavirus cases were diagnosed in health care workers, according to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The institute's head of infectious diseases control unit, Taneli Puumalainen, attributed the high proportion of healthcare workers contracting the illness to the early stages of the epidemic, when Covid-19 testing was focused heavily on foreign visitors as well as workers in the healthcare sector.

In 2019 around 7.4 percent of Finland's working-age population was employed in the health services industry.

THL said that none of the affected health care workers had died from their infections.

8.6 13:05 20 new coronavirus cases in Finland

Finland reported 20 new lab-confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL. Monday’s cases bring the total to 7,001 and the death toll from the disease stood at 323 as of Sunday. That number was expected to be updated later on Monday.

8.6 11:45 Finnair extends furloughs to March 2021

Finland's national airline Finnair announced on Monday that it intends to extend a programme of temporary layoffs caused by the coronavirus crisis to the end of March 2021, following the conclusion of codetermination talks last Friday.

The talks involved a total of around 6,100 employees in Finland.

8.6 09:20 Train congestion causing passenger concern

Tabloid Iltalehti reports on Monday that passengers on the Sunday afternoon VR service from Helsinki to Oulu were packed like "herrings in a jar", with very little possibility of adhering to physical distancing guidelines.

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