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Four-day Easter weekend: Slippery roads, special schedules

Easter is marked with a long holiday weekend in Finland, with many shops and offices closed from Thursday evening until Tuesday morning. This year motorists are warned of potentially hazardous road conditions in many areas.

Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Road traffic is expected to be heavy on Thursday afternoon and evening as people head out of Finnish cities to spend the four-day Easter weekend holiday.

Police advise drivers to continue using winter tyres, if they haven't switched yet. This applies particularly to those driving in the east or north. The forecast calls for snow, sleet and rain showers in some parts of the country with overnight lows of -2 and -7 degrees Celsius – as low as -12 up north.

Road traffic will likely peak late Maundy Thursday, but also to be heavy on Good Friday. Return traffic is expected to be heaviest from noon to 8pm on Monday, known in Finland as 'the second day of Easter'. The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (Autoliitto) offers volunteers to help motorists with car trouble through Monday.

Some shops and offices closed

Banks are closed from 1 pm Thursday until Tuesday morning.

Most post offices are mostly closed from 6 pm Thursday until Tuesday morning, although postal outlets inside shops are open according to store business hours. Helsinki's general post office is open 10-4 on Saturday, while the Santa Claus Post Office in Rovaniemi is open every day.

Shop opening hours were deregulated last year, so stores may operate all weekend. Opening hours are listed on store websites.

Alko shops are open normally until 8 pm Thursday. State alcohol outlets are then closed until Tuesday.

Changes to public transport schedules

Bus services vary, with some routes cancelled on all four days. Schedules for most companies can be checked on the Matkahuolto website.

Train schedules can be checked on the VR website. The state rail company expects nearly a quarter-million passengers over the Easter period, with many trains already sold out. Extra night trains have been laid on. On Thursday most trains run on Friday timetables. On Friday they mainly follow Sunday schedules. Saturday trains run on normal schedules, as do most Sunday trains. On Monday VR repeats its usual Sunday schedule.

Helsinki Airport officials warn of long queues, especially on Thursday and on Friday morning.

Free, anonymous, confidential helpline services for children and youth are offered by the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (tel. 116 111, from Friday through Monday 2 pm-5 pm) and for parents (tel. 0800 922 77).

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