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Monday's papers: Congrats to the PM, face masks, retailers hoping for a boost

In the Finnish press, an outpouring of warm wishes for the prime minister and a face mask recommendation confirmed.

ihmisiä kauppakeskuksessa
Shoppers at a mall Helsinki. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

We begin by briefly looking back to the weekend and the announcement on Sunday by Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) of her marriage to her long-term partner Markus Räikkönen in a ceremony at Kesäranta, the premier's official residence.

The tabloid Iltalehti reported a flood of best wishes for the prime minister and her freshly-minted husband on social media.

Among them were congratulatory messages from some of her government partners, including Li Andersson (Left) , Katri Kulmuni (Cen) , Maria Ohisalo (Green) and Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP).

President Sauli Niinistö and his wife Jenni Haukio also warmly congratulated Marin via Twitter.

Marin responded on Sunday night with another Instagram update.

"A warm thank you to everyone for their congratulations," wrote Marin. She also thanked by name her wedding photographer, wedding portrait photographer, wedding dress makers, flower arranger and the official who conducted the ceremony.

Mask recommendation confirmed

Iltalehti also reports that the director general of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Markku Tervahauta has confirmed that a face mask recommendation will come into force next week, aimed at combating a possible second wave of the coronavirus.

According to Iltalehti, the THL recommendation, will apply in particular to public transport and public events where safe distances cannot be maintained.

Tervahauta told the paper that details of the recommendation in terms of content and timelines will be released on Monday.

He did not comment on whether or not THL intends to issue a recommendation on the use of face masks to the Finnish government, as well.

Traveler testing and safety

The Jyväskylä daily Keskisuomalainen reminds readers that as of Monday, passengers can get a coronavirus test at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

The City of Vantaa, where the airport is located, is also offering passengers a health counselling service.

Arriving tourists will also receive instructions on follow-up care, reporting a test result, and when a positive test result requires a follow-up.

Not all passengers will be tested. According to the City of Vantaa, those who suspect that they have become infected with the coronavirus or who have symptoms suggesting a coronavirus infection will be eligible for testing.

Helsinki's Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet reports that among its safe travel measures, Finnish state railway VR is now offering passengers the option of booking an entire compartment, in addition to reserving individual seats. Bookings can now be made for one to four people on intercity trains for normal six-seat compartments, as a fee-based additional service.

VR says that the move comes in response to a July survey in which almost 40 percent of customers stated that they want to be able to book their own compartments.

The service is currently available only through VR's mobile application. Later this month, bookings will also be possible at ticket machines and starting in the autumn on VR's website.

Spending tax returns

A number of morning papers, including Tampere's Aamulehti, note that nearly two million people in Finland will receive tax refunds on Tuesday and retailers are looking to discount sales help them pick up a large chunk of the roughly 900 million euros to be paid into consumers' bank accounts.

Toni Jääskeläinen, chief economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation says that many of the 7,000 retailers who are members of the federation will be rolling out sales campaigns this week.

“The coronavirus was a tough blow to specialty shops, opticians and clothing stores. There's been a wait-and-see attitude [among consumers] not knowing if there will be another wave of the coronavirus,” Jääskeläinen says.

Not all tax refunds are being paid out this week. Some were paid in July, and some will only be paid to taxpayers later in the fall. An additional 700,000-odd refunds will be paid in September, In addition, thousands of customers who made changes to their tax filings in May will not receive a tax refund until October, November, or December.

Back to the beach?

Ilta-Sanomat tells us that if we can manage to put up with cool rainy weather for the next few days, we are likely to be rewarded with a return of warm summery weather.

The paper quotes Foreca Meteorologist Joanna Rinne as saying that as of Friday, most parts of the country may see temperatures ranging between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius, up to as much as 28 degrees in some inland areas.

"If you like the heat, it's not gone yet, there are more hot days on the way,” Rinne tells the paper. "In July, temperatures were moderate, but August will make up for that."

Before we get to the weekend, however, the weather will be unstable, with rain concentrated Monday in southern and central parts of the country and on Tuesday in northern areas.

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