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Monday's papers: Restaurants reopen, post-corona economy, family reunions

Indoor dining is back on the menu from today, but with some restrictions still in place.

Ravintolan asikaspaikat poissa käytöstä poikkeuolojen vuoksi mutta takeaway ruokaa saatavilla.
Indoor dining is back on the menu from today, but with some restrictions. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Today sees restaurants welcoming customers back for indoor dining for the first time since nationwide restrictions were imposed last month.

However, there's a catch, as Monday's Iltalehti reports. Those in parts of the country in the acceleration and community transmission phases of the pandemic will be required to close early, with bars and pubs shutting by 18:00 and restaurants by 19:00.

Antti Airila, owner of Tampere restaurant Tampella told the paper he felt the restrictions were unreasonable.

"We accepted the restrictions as a strange, arbitrary decision. It seems odd that you can sit in a bar until 5PM but you can't go out to eat after work," he said.

Others told Iltalehti that the shift to remote working means the traditional lunchtime rush is a thing of the past.

"I hope the pensioners will be out in force, since so many have been vaccinated," said owner of Helsinki restaurant Mamma Rosa Raimo Pekkonen.

'I'm excited to see how people will act on Monday," he said.

The limited closing times will be in force for two weeks from today, Iltalehti writes, before they become subject to weekly review on a regional basis.

Building the post-corona economy

With the government due to discuss the future of state spending in the budget framework debate this week, Joensuu's Karjalainen asks experts how they would boost the economy.

Aki Kangasharju, CEO of economics think tank Etla told the paper the priority should be to create 50,000 new jobs by changing the way income-linked unemployment insurance benefits are paid out.

"This could be done by increasing the amount of compensation paid at the beginning of the unemployment period and decreasing it towards the end of the period. Another option is to link the level of unemployment benefit to how long the person has been at work," he said.

Danske Bank Chief Economist Päsi Kuoppamäki told Karjalainen he expected further government investment in research and development.

On Friday, a report in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus said Finance Minister Matti Vanhanen (Cen) would provide an additional ten billion euros in R&D funding over ten years.

Meanwhile Elina Pylkkänen, director of the PT research Institute said that more investment in training and education was needed.

"Unemployment is best tackled through education. Human capital is our most important capital," she said.

Together at last?

Monday's Helsingin Sanomat focuses on the human impact of the coronavirus vaccination programme, as it follows the story of one family reunion in Espoo.

"We're still carrying on as before, but our attitude towards the whole problem changed. There has been talk of a tunnel – we got through the tunnel," vaccinated 87-year-old Esko Luoto told the paper.

Luoto and his wife, 85-year-old Anja-Kaisa Luoto, are among the vaccinated grandparents reuniting with loved ones.

HS follows as they meet their grandson Mikael for the first time in months. "It's been such an awfully long time since we hugged like this," Anja-Kaisa Luoto told the paper.

However, getting vaccinated does not mean guaranteed protection from the coronavirus, HS warns.

"So far we have recommended precautions regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not and regardless of the number of doses," THL expert Hanna Nohynek told the paper.

While THL does not yet have guidelines for meetings with vaccinated elderly relatives, they are on the way, Nohynek said.

Mika Rämet, director of Tampere University's Vaccine Research Centre said that the threat of new, more virulent variants of the virus means safety can't be guaranteed.

"That's why everyone has to follow the rules," Rämet said.

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