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Tuesday's papers: More restrictions eased, fringe parties, new potatoes

Sports events and festivals are likely to take off again as Tuesday sees the lifting of distancing requirements for outdoor events.

The first potatoes harvested each year are always eagerly awaited by shoppers. Image: YLE

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat is among the papers reporting that as of Tuesday it will be easier to organize outdoor events, sports and sports services, following an announcement by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health that the definition of close contact set out in the Communicable Diseases Act will no longer apply in outdoor situations.

Safe distance requirements – remaining no less than two metres apart and avoiding physical contact – are to still be observed in enclosed spaces. Limits on the size of gatherings are set regionally by local authorities.

The paper further reports that restrictions on gatherings in Southwest Finland are also being eased. Even though Southwest Finland is still in the spreading phase of the pandemic, regional authorities have announced that public events and general meetings attended by a maximum of ten people indoors and 50 people in designated outdoor spaces can now be held. These rules will be in force until 16 June.

Also, in Finnish Lapland, regional health authorities have canceled the 50-person limit on gatherings that was due to come into force on Tuesday.

Enough vaccine?

As reported by Yle on Monday, up to 356,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines are scheduled to be delivered to Finland during the coming week, a significant rise that is expected to speed up the nation's vaccination programme.

According to the daily Iltalehti, the level of deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine is, however, set to fall again in August – September, slowing the rate of vaccination.

Mia Kontio, a specialist in vaccine logistics from the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL is quoted as saying that while according to preliminary EU allocations this may be the case, but it is not yet certain.

The Pfizer vaccine is currently the most commonly used jab in Finland.

The EU's target is for 70 percent of the adult population to have have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine during the summer. According to Kontio, that goal is likely to be reached in Finland by the end of June.

Psychological strain

Tampere's Aamulehti reviews a new survey showing that growing numbers of people say they have felt the impact of psychological strain during the second wave of the pandemic in Finland.

According to the study by the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL, 14 percent of Finns have reported mental health symptoms and stress. In 2018, the corresponding figure was 12 percent.

The mental strain felt by people of working-age people in particular has increased. At the same time, the use of health services due to mental health problems has also increased among 20-54 year-olds.

However, suicidal thoughts have not shown a general increase. Such thoughts were found to be most common among people of working age, of whom one in ten respondents reported them.

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Also running

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat takes a look at a range of small, non-mainstream political parties and groups that have candidates in the running in the municipal elections.

HS writes that a number of political movements are now challenging the Green Party and parties on the political left, especially in the capital region.

The Helsinki Residents' list, the Environmental Movement Helsinki, the Animal Rights Party, the Crystal Party, the Feminist Party and, in Espoo, the Environmental Party are greener than the government's Green Party and want to preserve nature at the expense of housing construction.

These groups are also offering differing approaches.

The Animal Rights Party focuses on viewing environmental issues from an animal perspective, while the Environmental Party, the Environmental Movement in Helsinki, and the Crystal Party look at green areas from the perspective of local residents. The Open Party and the Pirate Party, on the other hand, approach climate change from the perspective of technological development.

Helsingin Sanomat listed the small political movements registered in the municipal elections in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

These also include the Blues, a group that splintered off from the Finns Party, and the Finnish Communist Party, which has candidates only in Espoo and Vantaa, five in both cities.

In addition to representatives of new political movements, a total of 14 Liberal Party candidates are running as independents on the Swedish People's Party list in Helsinki and Espoo.

Finally, new potatoes

The farmers' union paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reports, with no little sense of excitement, that the first potatoes of the season were harvested last weekend on the southwestern coastal islands of Houtskär and that this week, potato farmers in Nauvo, Rymättylä and Merimasku will follow suit.

Cool spring weather slightly delayed planting this year, but the availability of new potatoes is expected to grow steadily throughout early summer.

MT says that farmers are now delivering to all three major supermarket chains, Kesko, S-Group and Lidl.

New potatoes imported from southern Sweden have been available for some time, and are cheaper than their Finnish competitors. But, a farmers' union representative told the paper, "We compete on taste and quality."

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