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Tuesday’s papers: Coronavirus latest, benefit proposal and a tricky winter for ski centres

On Tuesday most newspapers cover the expanding coronavirus outbreak.

Laskettelijoita Himoksen rinteessä.
Himos ski centre was open at the turn of the year. Image: Jaana Polamo / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat’s lead story on Tuesday covers the expanding coronavirus outbreak and its possible implications for Finland.

The paper interviews a Finnish professor, Olli Vapalahti, who says that some kind of turning point is close.

With outbreaks of the new coronavirus strain now in Italy, Iran, South Korea and China, containing it is beginning to look very difficult. Vapalahti says this week will determine whether or not coronavirus is officially a pandemic, and the signs are not good.

China’s quarantine measures may have bought some time, said Vapalahti. He points out that even after the point at which the spread of the virus can no longer be stopped, there are still measures that can be taken to slow it.

Meanwhile Iltalehti’s coronavirus blog leads its ‘day 56’ update with the news that a tourist in Tenerife, which the paper notes is ‘popular with Finns’, has tested positive for novel coronavirus.

Language tests for benefits

HS also carries a report about the Christian Democrats’ latest proposal on unemployment benefits.

It aims to build on a concept from the Juha Sipilä government in 2016 which would have paid immigrants lower amounts in unemployment benefit (renamed integration benefit) which was deemed unconstitutional in 2016.

The Christian Democrat proposal would reduce unemployment benefit by 10 percent for everyone, with the reduction overturned for those who could prove they speak Finnish or Swedish at a sufficient level.

A school leaving certificate would suffice for those who went to school in Finland, or an official National Language Certificate of Proficiency would do the trick for those who didn’t.

The Christian Democrats are not in government and have only five MPs, so the policy is unlikely to be implemented soon, but their policy proposal does reflect some of the thinking among opposition parties.

Snowless ski season?

As southern Finland’s thermal winter gets started months late, business daily Kauppalehti takes a trip to Central Finland to visit one of the country’s ski centres, Himos.

Located in the town of Jämsä, it is more accessible than the Lapland resorts, but the southern location also means snow cover is less reliable.

This year the season started normally at the turn of the year, but then January and February were so unsettled that few customers turned up even when snow cannon managed to keep the pistes white.

According to the company the deciding factor is often whether or not there is snow in the southern population centres, as people often don’t feel like downhill skiing if there’s no snow in their backyards.

Himos is still hopeful of a good season, but the current ski holiday weeks will be decisive. Some 40-50 percent of the company’s turnover comes during the mid-winter break.

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