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Monday's papers: Vaccinating teens, police break up demo, weather warnings

Helsingin Sanomat looks at who will decide if schoolchildren can be vaccinated, as the capital rolls out coronavirus jabs for teens.

Lapset nauttivat vesileikeistä ja kesähelteestä vesipuistossa.
Children on a slide at a water park. Many theme parks opened later than usual this year, but are now expecting plenty of visitors. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

The daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that 16-24 year-olds will be able to book appointments for coronavirus vaccinations from Monday. Younger teens will also be able to get a jab soon, after the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) decided that a vaccination is recommended for children and adolescents aged 12 to 15 in at-risk groups.

Leena Turpeinen, who directs health and substance abuse services in Helsinki, told the paper that the vaccination of young people in risk groups in Helsinki will commence within the next two weeks.

"Before that, however, the existing appointment system needs to be reviewed and modified so that guardians can [make appointments] on behalf of minors," she added.

According to Turpeinen, Pfizer-Biontech vaccines will be given to children and adolescents. School health services will not take part in vaccination arrangements, since the current system is already working well, Turpeinen told Helsingin Sanomat.

For the time being, Helsinki is also considering how to make an appointment for vaccinations for minors in practice, and who will decide whether or not a child will receive the vaccine.

"Basically, if a child is able to decide, and take a stand on his or her own, he or she is allowed to do so. If not, the parents decide," said Turpeinen. "But, at the end of the day, it's the professionals who evaluate the situation."

Police break up demo

The Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet is among the papers reporting that on Sunday Helsinki police broke up a climate demonstration that had blocked traffic in parts of the city centre for four days.

Police took over 100 protesters into custody who were camping out on Mannerheimtie in front of Parliament, and another 20 or so who were blocking Unioninkatu.

"The situation is that we have arrested a hundred protesters and traffic on Mannerheimintie is flowing as usual," Helsinki police chief Jarmo Heinonen told the media at 9 pm on Sunday evening.

Police carried away protesters who refused to comply with an order to move out of the street.

The tabloid Iltalehti reports that the a total of 104 protesters (according to Yle information, that figure is 117) were arrested. Two of those taken into custody were minors and thus, not detained.

Heinonen said late on Sunday evening that it was still unclear how long those taken into custody would be held, adding that the police proceeded to make the arrests only in order to clear the streets.

According to Heinonen, the reason for the police's intervention was that, despite the negotiations, protesters refused to move from Unioninkatu which he described as a critical route for emergency vehicles.

Family outings

Traditional family-oriented summer resorts and activity centres, such as amusement parks and zoos, have once again been able to open their doors to holidaymakers.

The gates of a many of these facilities opened a couple of weeks later than usual, reports the Jyväskylä-based daily Keskisuomalainen.

Although traditional excursions for school classes and kindergarten groups were generally postponed or cancelled again this year, good early summer weather has favoured both visitors and operators.

Several theme parks popular with families with children in central Finland told the paper they were pleased with the increasing number of local visitors and that they are drawing visitors from further afield, as the pandemic continues to restrict foreign travel.

The high season, however, only begins after Midsummer.

All the theme park operators interviewed by Keskisuomalainen agreed that July will show how well the summer season goes.

"Midsummer is a watershed, after which the number of visitors clearly increases," explained Lauri Vartiainen, CEO of the Nokkakivi Amusement Park.

Theme parks say that they have not had to introduce advance bookings in order to limit the number of visitors.

"Even if there are no restrictions, it does not mean that we do not monitor the situation," Vartiainen pointed out.

Holidaymakers are expected to be keen for family entertainment opportunities and unless there is a setback in terms of weather or a resurgence of coronavirus infections, operators are confident that this summer will look brighter than last year.

Weather warnings

Ilta-Sanomat is among the papers reporting that the Finnish Meteorological Institute forecasts hot weather to continue, especially in southern and eastern parts of the country with the thermometer creeping up above 30C.

Severe heat warnings are in effect for the south and east, accompanied by forest fire warnings for large areas of the country.

In addition, there is a warning of potentially dangerous UV radiation in southern Finland. Meanwhile, the regions of Kainuu, North Savo and North Karelia are all under warnings of severe thunderstorms.

Looking further ahead, Iltalehti writes that the current hot weather is likely to continue through the Midsummer holiday weekend, and beyond – at least for regions south of Oulu.

According to the current forecast, Midsummer Eve will see rain and thunderstorms in central parts of the country, but overall warm and sunny elsewhere.

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