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Tuesday's papers: Centre race gets going, children complain about child protection services, and mask questions persist

There are now four candidates to become leader of the Centre Party.

Katri Kulmuni ja Annika Saarikko.
The two frontrunners in the race to win the leadership of the Centre Party, Katri Kulmuni (left) and Annikka Saarikko. Image: Yle

On Monday the race to become the new leader of the Centre Party got going in earnest, with two more candidates entering the race and the two leading contenders facing off in a live debate on Yle's A-Studio programme.

The debate between current leader Katri Kulmuni and challenger Annikka Saarikko was a largely civil affair, as you'd expect, but Iltalehti detected one slight difference in tone.

Kulmuni took a slightly harder line on immigration than Saarikko, saying that Finland should have the same line as Sweden and Denmark in asylum issues.

Saarikko's tone was different, saying that Finland should first and foremost be a country that helps those in need, while guarding against any possible abuses of the system.

The day started with Petri Honkonen, an MP from Central Finland and deputy chair of the party, declaring he wanted the job.

Party newspaper Suomenmaa reports that, in a press conference at the party offices in Helsinki, Honkonen said the Centre had been too obsessed with day-to-day political headlines, and had lost sight of the bigger picture.

He said his vision included a focus on the economy as a means to preserve the welfare state.

Also stepping up to join the race was Ilkka Tiainen, an entrepreneur from south Ostrobothnia who has not been a party member since 2012.

Suomenmaa reports that he said the party needed to lead the national conversation, and that's why he had rejoined.

Child protection complaints

Helsingin Sanomat leads with a story on a rise in children complaining about child protection services.

HS says that in 2017 there were five complaints to the parliamentary ombudsman by children about foster care or care homes. In 2019 that had risen to 60, and this year there had been 34 complaints up until the end of July.

At the end of July the ombudsman released a report on a home in Hollola where they had found numerous problems and breaches of young people's rights.

According to children's ombudsman Elina Pekkarinen, that's not necessarily a bad thing: children are more aware of their rights and know how to assert them.

It's important to explain to children why certain restrictions are in place, especially when limiting contact with parents or limiting rights to move around, according to Pekkarinen.

Mask debate rumbles on

As reported on Sunday, Finland looks set to change its recommendations on using face masks. The country's health agency the THL is set to announce that use on public transport and in enclosed spaces could help slow the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

Ilta-Sanomat has an editorial arguing that just a recommendation might not be enough. The paper wants answers to several questions: Can bus firms ban maskless passengers? Will someone hand out masks to those who can't afford them? What kind of masks are good? Is a scarf good enough?

The paper also says that people should be able to get a test more easily if they think they were exposed to coronavirus, but don't have symptoms.

In Denmark that's possible free of charge, and IS wants the same system brought in over here.

It's clear that, as Finland moves towards a new mask policy, there will be plenty of questions from the press and the public.

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