Morning headlines: Friday 4th December 2020

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PM urges coordinated vaccine action at UN meeting 

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has told a United Nations meeting on the coronavirus crisis that the length of time it takes to recover from the global pandemic “depends on our actions now.” The special session of the UN General Assembly was called to press the point that the pandemic is not just a health crisis but an economic, development and human rights crisis that “revealed the structural inequalities” for vulnerable members of society, the UN says. In a video message to the conference, Marin said “it is our responsibility to show political leadership. It is possible to balance the need to protect health, and the impact of our measures on society and the economy.” The PM said there had to be a coordinated response to recovery efforts, with the World Health Organisation given enough resources to take the lead on this – especially when it comes to distributing vaccines which Marin said must be universally available. “No-one is safe until everyone is safe” she added.

Court proceedings start in Veijo Baltzar case

Proceedings begin at Helsinki District Court today of cultural figurehead Veijo Baltzar on charges of human trafficking and sexual offenses. The main trial gets underway next week and Baltzar doesn’t have to appear in person at the preparatory phase. Baltzar’s alleged crimes came to light in November 2019 after a Helsingin Sanomat investigation revealed claims of manipulation and control of underage girls and young women in his theatre community. The newspaper interviewed 18 women with first-hand information of working with the director, and some said they felt pressured to please him if they wanted to land good roles in productions. Some of the women were underage at the time of the alleged incidents with Baltzar suspected of recruiting them to his theatre company and enticing them to visit or live with him in Ekenäs abd Rautalammi. In addition to Baltzar two women have been charged with aiding and abetting human trafficking offenses – with one of them suspected of being a victim of trafficking herself over the course of several years.

Workplace exhaustion plagues 1-in-3 people in Finland

If you’ve been feeling burned out or exhausted at work then you’re not alone. A new study finds that 1-in-3 workers in Finland experience mental exhaustion on a weekly basis. That’s according to research commissioned by the Employees’ Association ERTO which says that a better salary and the possibility of uninterrupted working hours are two possible solutions to fixing the problem. A quarter of employees say they’re coping neither well, nor badly at work; while 40% say their ability to cope with stress at work has deteriorated in the past year. Kela’s sickness benefits paid for mental reasons have increased by 50 percent in the last three years. “For the first time in 2019, the main reason for disability pensions was mental health, and growth from 2016 was 25%2 says ERTO chairman Juri Aaltonen.

Christmas plans survey 

Finns have plans to scale back Christmas – at least somewhat – according to a couple of recent surveys. A new poll published Friday by Uutissuomalainen newspaper group finds that 1-in-3 Finns say they’ll enjoy Christmas in a smaller group than usual, with folks in Uusimaa more likely to change than elsewhere. However 3-out-of-5 people say they’re not going to alter anything about their Christmas plans this year. Meanwhile a survey carried out for insurer IF reveals that a quarter of Finns – rising to a third in Uusimaa – will scale back visits to relatives this Christmas because of the coronavirus pandemic. By far the most common plans this year involve just staying at home for Christmas – with 76% of people in the IF survey saying they’re not going anywhere at all.

Friday morning weather

It’s a cloudy and fairly mild start to Friday morning across the country, with a few patches of scattered snow. There’s some precipitation moving in from the west as the day goes on but for this morning temperatures start just a few degrees below zero across Lapland and down the eastern border, warming up to a degree or two above zero in the south.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Friday morning 4th December 2020 / Credit: FMI