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Tuesday's papers: Lapland’s virus hotspot, summer price rises, rent exemptions

A doctor in Vaasa has traced a number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the city back to a ski resort in Lapland.

Levin hiihtokeskus.
Levi ski resort in Finnish Lapland. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Helsingin Sanomat reports that a doctor in the city of Vaasa says some of the coronavirus cases in his city can be traced back to the Levi ski resort in Finnish Lapland.

HS writes that Heikki Kaukoranta, a doctor in charge of infectious diseases in a region which has 35 confirmed coronavirus infections, found that many of the cases are linked to trips to the popular ski resort in Kittilä. Many of Lapland's resorts closed in late March, a month earlier than usual, after reports emerged of their links to confirmed coronavirus cases.

Kaukoranta told HS that the resort could have potentially infected hundreds of people across the country.

"We carry out very extensive infection detection and contact tracing. When we have researched the backgrounds of the infected people, the ski resorts of Lapland and Levi in particular have unfortunately often come to the fore," Kaukoranta said, adding that the spread of infections is unlikely to have occurred on the slopes, but while people socialised afterwards.

"Downhill skiing is not dangerous as such, as there will be a well-kept distance to other people in the open air. These cases of the virus are probably related to the evening after skiing," Kaukoranta told HS.

The paper notes that in the early stages of the coronavirus epidemic, a restaurant called Kitzloch in Tyrol, Austria, was found to be a virus hotspot because of the number of confirmed cases that were traced back to it. It now appears that coronavirus may have spread from the Levi Ski Resort in a similar way, HS writes.

Kaukoranta encourages people to stay at home as much as possible this Easter, and play board games with their families instead of going outside.

"That way, who knows, restrictions might be lifted two weeks earlier than would otherwise be the case," Kaukoranta said.

Product shortages and price rises

Tabloid Iltalehti writes that Finnish shoppers can expect food price rises and shortages of fresh produce such as strawberries this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

IL spoke to Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General of Copa-Cogeca which represents the interests of EU Farmers and Agri-cooperatives within the EU, and he told the tabloid that the availability of fresh products is likely to fluctuate throughout this coming summer.

"It is likely that fresh products, such as summer berries and other products sold fresh, will be affected by the coronavirus situation. If there are no vegetable pickers or strawberry collectors, for example, it is likely that availability will decline and prices will rise," Pesonen said.

IL writes that European unity has been "tested" during the coronavirus pandemic, and that the possibility of a shortage of certain food products this summer, with accompanying price hikes, will be a further test of the union's strength.

"I have to admit that there are difficulties everywhere, and they will affect the operation of the entire food chain," Pesonen told IL.

Tampere introduces rent exemptions for businesses

Tampere-based Aamulehti reports on a decision by the city council to offer exemptions and discounts to businesses renting city properties until May 31, which the paper hopes will be an example for “others to do the same”.

In a press release announcing the decision released on Monday, the city estimated that the move will cost the city about 500,000 euros.

"For some of the city's tenants, the pandemic situation has significantly reduced the number of customers, even though the premises may still be open. For such companies, the city will grant a 50 percent rent reduction from April and May," the release stated.

A number of city landmarks, including the Tampere Market Hall, Frenckell and the Pyynikki swimming pool, will be affected by the new measure.

The city council also added that it hopes private landlords in the city will make similar decisions.

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