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Monday's papers: Government seeks emergency powers, employment service change, winter weather return

Finnish papers expect to see a formal step towards more stringent measures to battle the coronavirus epidemic on Monday.

Asiointia baaritiskillä
The government is looking to close bars and restaurants for three weeks beginning on 8 March. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat is among several newspapers reporting that the Finnish government is expected to formally declare a state of emergency at a cabinet meeting which starts just before noon on Monday.

As the paper points out, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) indicated in a Twitter post on Friday that the step was imminent, and President Sauli Niinistö told the Finnish news agency STT on Thursday that agreement had been reached on implementing stringent new measures.

According to Ilta-Sanomat, Monday's cabinet session will also approve a draft bill for presentation to parliament to close restaurants for three weeks beginning on 8 March.

The closure of restaurants cannot be implemented under the Communicable Diseases Act or the Emergency Powers Act, so MPs will need to pass special legislation.

The daily Helsingin Sanomat writes that some restaurants at ski resorts in Finnish Lapland have already closed their doors. In particular, several bar and pub-type establishments closed over the weekend and will not reopen before the scheduled 8 March closure.

Drawing on local media sources, Ilta-Sanomat reports that employees of a fast food restaurant at the Levi winter sports centre in Kittilä have been placed in quarantine after one tested positive over the weekend.

Employment service changes

Jyväskylä's daily Keskisuomalainen is among the papers reporting the launch of a new two-year employment services trial which will affect some unemployed job-seekers, including immigrants and anyone whose native language is something other than Finnish, Swedish or Sámi.

During the trial period, local municipalities will be taking over responsibility for job-seekers in employment services who are not entitled to earnings-related daily allowance, all job-seekers under the age of 30, as well as immigrants who are either unemployed or in employment services at the TE offices in the pilot areas.

The trial is being launched as of 1 March in 25 pilot areas and 118 municipalities or cities.

The paper reports that according to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the aim is to improve access to the labour market, especially for those who have been unemployed for a longer period of time, and those who are in a weaker position in the labour market. Services will be increasingly focused on identifying individual needs for developing job skills, and barriers to employment.

The trial aims to link employment, education, and social and health services more closely together. Municipalities will be able to develop services according to local employment market needs.

More information in English on the change is available from the TE-Services website.

New scam

Iltalehti warns its readers about a new online scam targeting customers of S-Bank services.

Last week the paper reported two different fraudulent emails, one saying that clients had received a message from online service and had to long into their S-Bank accounts to read it, and another threatening to disable the account if the customer does not log in immediately.

Scammers are now taking a "softer approach" with a new scam message offering "new features to make everyday life easier" if customers follow the link and provide log-in information.

Enjoy it while you can

In other advice to its readers, Iltalehti says to enjoy the spring-like weather while it lasts, because it looks like winter is planning on making a return later this week.

Late February was exceptionally warm, with temperatures rising to almost 10C in the Åland islands.

The beginning of this week is also expected to bring unseasonably mild temperatures across much of the country, but on Wednesday cold air will start moving in again with sub-zero temperatures forecast in the north that will spread to other regions by Thursday. Those colder temperatures will be given even more of a bite by increasingly sharp winds.

If "winter wonderland" is your thing, Mikkeli's Länsi-Savo has a readers' photo gallery from the weekend including shots of the Northern Lights, an otter enjoying the cold and birds practicing their own form of social distancing.

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