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Friday's papers: Regional mask reactions, bullying debate and football success

Finland's press reports on responses to updated mask recommendations, school bullying and local team's "finest achievement".

Nainen istuu metrossa maski päässään.
File photo of a woman wearing a mask on the Helsinki metro. Image: Arttu Timonen / Yle

Newspapers across Finland on Friday report on the "accelerating" rate of coronavirus infections, as the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL’s) regional recommendations on the wearing of masks takes effect.

Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) tweeted yesterday evening that the capital region "will start implementing THL's recommendations" as soon as possible, according to a story in Helsingin Sanomat.

HS writes that the coronavirus infection rate in the Uusimaa district has been slowly but steadily increasing over the past week, and Thursday’s case count of 29 per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous two-week period would put the region above the government’s threshold for travel from abroad without the need for quarantine.

"In practice, this [the Helsinki incidence rate] has doubled in a week. And if it doubles again next week, then we really will be in a pretty bad mess," Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district Director of Diagnostics Lasse Lehtonen tells the paper.

Masks rare in Central Finland

Meanwhile, Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen reports on how the residents of the city, which has a two-week incidence rate of 36.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, are reacting to an "extensive mask recommendation" issued by city officials on Thursday.

The paper visits a local shopping centre and notes that only 14 of the 135 people they observe over a ten-minute period are wearing masks.

KSML adds that Jyväskylä mayor Timo Koivisto (SDP) said the city is considering other options to stem the spread of the virus, such as restricting bar and restaurant opening hours as well as switching local schools to remote learning.

"However, we hope that they will not have to be introduced, but that the use of masks will now be taken seriously and that every resident will follow the safety instructions more effectively over the next two weeks," Koivisto wrote in a city press release.

School bullying issue unites government and opposition

Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL) writes that after many months of wrangling over coronavirus restrictions, EU stimulus packages and budget proposals, government and opposition parties in Finland’s Parliament have finally found an issue on which there is "consensus and common concern": school bullying.

"Every week, police are forced to intervene in incidents in schools. It is our common task to ensure that no child needs to be afraid at school. But what is your message to all the worried parents whose children at this very moment feel afraid to go to school?" National Coalition Party’ MP Sofia Vikman asked of the government’s coalition partners.

HBL writes that Minister of Education Li Andersson (Left) responded by saying that more resources are being provided to schools to help tackle the problem, but the schools themselves are best placed to decide what resources they need.

"I believe that we can best support preventive work by ensuring that schools have the resources that the work requires," Andersson said. "I trust that the schools themselves know if they need a psychiatric nurse, more special teachers or youth workers."

A football club's "finest achievement"

Many of Friday morning’s papers report on the victory by Finland’s reigning Veikkausliiga champions Kuopio football club KuPs over Lithuanian title-holders FK Sūduva, an achievement which local newspaper Savon Sanomat describes as the "finest achievement" in the club’s 100-year history.

The Kuopio side’s 2-0 victory puts them through to the Europa League playoff round, the furthest a Finnish team has advanced in European club competition since Helsinki's HJK reached the group stage of the same competition in 2015.

Story continues after photo.

KuPS juhlii
KuPs players celebrate their victory. Image: AOP / Aake Roininen

Tabloid Iltalehti highlights the importance of the victory for KuPs, both on and off the field, by writing that getting through to this stage of the competition last season netted clubs about 300,000 euros.

If KuPs were to beat Romanian side CFR Cluj in next Thursday’s playoff decider and advance to the group stages of the tournament, they could earn up to three million euros in broadcast fees and prize money, IL writes.

Given the requirement to play their European games behind closed doors, therefore missing out on lucrative gate receipts, this would be a very welcome windfall for the Finnish champions.

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