Several morning newspapers speculate that the Finnish government will be announcing new measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, including tighter regulation of entry into the country.
The tabloid Iltalehti writes that health officials are particularly concerned about the spread of coronavirus variants, quoting an anonymous source as saying that the government is considering a ban on all but essential work-related travel.
According to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL, 86 cases of the British or South African variant have been confirmed in Finland.
"In terms of the sustainability of our health care system, we cannot allow the same to happen in Finland as in Ireland," the government source told Iltalehti.
Ireland had the lowest rate of coronavirus infections in Europe in December. By mid-January, the situation in Ireland was the worst in the world. One key reason for the rapid turnaround was the British variant of the virus.
According to Iltalehti, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is pushing for tougher measures than other ministries or government parties.
"It is not an easy task to get everyone to back the same view," the paper's the source says.
"In any case," writes Iltalehti, "decisions on new measures are due to be taken on Friday."
Oulu's Kaleva is among the papers reporting that Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) took part in a conference call among EU government leaders late Thursday evening where they discussed, among other issues, uniform practices for border crossing and testing at borders within the bloc.
Speaking to the press before the call, Marin pointed out that Finland has the situation under better control than many other countries in Europe and so also has a relatively higher risk of the disease coming across the border.
"Restrictions, testing and quarantine in border traffic are key to how well we can control the spread of the virus from one country to another," said Marin.
Mixed views on crisis management
A management consultancy review of government actions dealing with the pandemic says that measures and results have so far been largely successful, according to the Turku daily Turun Sanomat.
The report, commissioned by the government, carried out by the consulting company Deloitte, included interviews with members of the government, senior officials, representatives of the Covid-19 Coordination Group, officials from the Office of the Chancellor of Justice, and some members of parliament.
While most gave high marks for action to dampen the spread of the virus, the majority of those interviewed felt that the impact on economic and fundamental rights were largely ignored. Especially at the beginning of the crisis, the economy was not given enough attention.
Furthermore, the general state of readiness to deal with a pandemic was seen as poor, on both the national and local level.
According to the interviewees, the problem was due in large part to the fact that Finland's crisis preparations were mainly targeted at weathering a military crisis.
Despite these criticisms, crisis management decision making by the government and coordination of actions by various agencies was seen as effective, considering the exceptional circumstances.
Crisis communication received high marks, being described as "clear, factual and transparent". The seriousness of the situation was also well communicated to the public, according to the review.
Rents up, but supply good
During the final months of last year, the cost of rental housing rose the most in Turku, where the increase was 1.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020. During that same period, rents rose by 1.5 in Kerava, 1.4 in Espoo and 1.4 in Vantaa. and 1.4 per cent in Porvoo, says Statistics Finland.
The smallest increase in rents have been seen in Seinäjoki, Riihimäki, Hämeenlinna, Kotka and Lahti.
Rents in the Greater Helsinki area have risen by more than 8 percent, and in the rest of Finland by 6.3 per cent since 2015.
According to the rental and real estate investment company Vuokraturva, the growing popularity of housing as an investment has increased the supply of rental properties to such an extent that even the largest growth centers no longer suffer from a shortage of rental housing.
The supply of rental housing has increased because of growing investment in real estate by individuals, pension companies, domestic housing investment companies, as well as international funds, especially in recent years, Vuokraturva says.
Aamulehti notes that according to Statistics Finland, the number of rented dwellings in the country has grown by 25 percent since 2000.
The paper writes that some larger cities are now experiencing a significant oversupply of rental housing.
The joy of housecleaning
The most-read feature article early Friday in Helsingin Sanomat was a portrait of the life and times of Auri Kananen, a 27 year-old resident of Tampere whose passion for housecleaning has gained her three million followers on Tiktok and the attention of the global mainstream media.
Kananen found her huge following after deciding to clean house for a man she met through the dating app Tinder in the late summer of 2020. A video he shot and posted of her cleaning his fireplace has to date garnered about 19 million views and three million likes.
"Just as cooking or decorating is sexy, cleaning is sexy, fun and easy," Kananen tells Helsingin Sanomat.
She is now looking to turn her passion into a career, having set up a company with a view to launching a TV series, a book, radio offerings, and a number of other projects.