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Finland gets some relief from restrictions, but what lies ahead?

Finland will soon ease many restrictions on business, social life and sporting activity. APN looks at what it all means.

All points North_teemakuva

Finland is one of many governments across the world doing a tightrope act and trying to navigate a way out of varying degrees of lockdown. On Monday, the government announced that it would be easing many emergency restrictions from 1 June, allowing for the re-opening of restaurants, cinemas, theatres and other public places.

You can listen to the full podcast via this embedded player, 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.

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Audio: Yle News

An Yle poll out on Thursday suggests strong support for the main government partner -- Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party -- and the administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

However, echoing similar sentiments expressed by some analysts, Yle foreign correspondent Mika Mäkeläinen told APN that the background paper guiding the government’s decision to carefully roll back some measures seems to assume that Finland’s best option at the moment is to pursue a herd immunity strategy.

"The report seems to indicate that achieving a herd immunity by letting people get infected and fall sick is the only option left for Finland," Mäkeläinen told APN.

"Leading epidemiologist Mika Salminen has also indicated that he doesn’t believe there will be a vaccine available for a long time to come, so you cannot count on it and you have to find another way out."

The plans to partially lift restrictions have polarised people. Some have welcomed the economic, social and psychological benefits, while others have expressed concern that increased social interaction could endanger risk groups. The situation has created some uncertainty among the public -- including APN listeners -- about what they should and shouldn’t do from 1 June.

Questions about domestic and international travel

Domestic and international travel was a recurring theme among questions APN listeners asked, with Valeria Maria Buonanno querying the effect the new measures will have on people planning to move to Finland. And international student Nirbhay Singh wanted to know if he'd be able to get a residence permit to take up a position at a Finnish university.

APN referred listeners to the government’s guidance on the easing of travel restrictions in Finland and the Schengen area to allow for business-related and essential travel. Authorities are still recommending that people avoid travelling for leisure purposes.

Meanwhile the Finnish Immigration Service, Migri, has said that people planning to travel to Finland should postpone their trips if possible. The agency has said that it is still processing residence permits but that delays are possible because of the virus outbreak.

Because Finnish embassies and foreign missions are closed, Migri said that it has extended the deadline to 31 August for people to identify themselves in order to complete the application process. Migri has a handy FAQ section on its website that addresses most issues concerning the impact of the crisis on its work.

Gyms, cottages and trains

This week’s podcast also fielded practical questions such as what train services will look like after restrictions are partially lifted and what steps national rail company VR is taking to ensure passenger safety.

Other listeners asked about when gyms would re-open their doors and whether or not they could still book a summer cottage for their vacations. Listen to the full podcast as our hosts provide answers.

Join the conversation!

Thanks to our audience for sending in your questions and for joining the conversation! This week's show was presented by Denise Wall and Ronan Browne. Our producer was Mark Odom and the sound engineer was Joonatan Kotila.

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 yle.news@yle.fi and allpointsnorth@yle.fi.

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