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Friday's papers: Some struggle to buy masks while others flock to stocks

Municipalities in Finland will soon begin issuing free face masks to residents who say they can't afford them.

Hengityssuojainta käyttävä nainen odottaa bussia Helsingissä.
Finland is now recommending that people wear face masks in crowded public spaces, such as mass transport. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Regularly donning disposable face masks can quickly become costly, and to that end news outlets on Friday ask how people can stay protected even when they can’t afford to cover up.

The cities of Helsinki and Turku have said they will distribute free face masks to low-income residents, according to Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

Helsinki is, however, exploring just how to get reusable face masks to people. The city said an exact timeline was still being worked out. Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) told Helsingin Sanomat that the lack of a transition period on official mask recommendations had taken the city by surprise.

On Thursday the government said masks should, in principle, be paid for by individuals themselves, but municipalities should ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable receive them free of charge. According to Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP), the state will reimburse municipalities for costs related to providing masks to residents.

Vapaavuori said people lining up for free masks would not face income screening.

"We can’t start checking and outlining criteria for who qualifies," he told HS.

Different realities

And while some households in Finland are wondering how to pay for their personal protective equipment (PPE), others in the country are investing in the stock market like never before, reports business daily Kauppalehti.

KL said the coronavirus pandemic had not frightened Finns from investing, with Nasdaq Helsinki’s general index now reaching levels seen at the beginning of the year.

At the end of June, Finland was home to a record 881,000 private stockholders (up from some 700,000 in 2007), with 118,000 investors opening equity savings accounts that became available to bank customers this year. KL noted that equity savings accounts have fuelled household investing.

Holders of these accounts can transfer a maximum of 50,000 euros to equity savings accounts for investing in publicly listed companies. Customers will only pay taxes on the returns on their investments when they withdraw money from the accounts.

KL implored women to become more active in this space, as men under the age of 40 accounted for more than half of new equity savings account holders.

Weekend scorcher

Summer isn’t over yet in Finland -- at least according to newsstand tabloid Iltalehti -- which is projecting the mercury to reach 27 degrees Celsius in some southern areas over the weekend.

IL said the weekend would likely be the warmest before cooler autumn weather moves in.

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