Morning headlines: Monday 19th October 2020

News Now Finland morning news headlines and weather first, every weekday at 09:00.

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Appeals Court hears Raseborg conscript deaths case

The Helsinki Appeals Court begins hearing the case of three conscripts killed in a level crossing accident. The accident happened in 2017 when a Defence Forces truck was hit by a VR commuter train at an unguarded level crossing. Three conscripts were killed and five others injured including the driver. That particular level crossing was known to have limited lines of sight to oncoming trains for vehicles approaching the crossing. The driver was charged in Eastern Uusimaa District Court with causing the deaths of the three conscripts, as well as other crimes but the court ended up dismissing all the charges. However the prosecutor appealed the district court’s decision and now the appeals court procedure begins.

Questions remain over Migri process for Brexit Brits

Hundreds of British nationals have lodged applications to change their immigration status in Finland since the Immigration Service Migri opened the process at the beginning of October – but the process itself still raises a lot of questions among the British community in Finland. The new immigration status effectively moves an estimated 5,000 UK nationals from being EU citizens to what is called ‘third country nationals’ and secures their rights to continue living here under the Withdrawal Agreement signed between the British Government and the European Union as part of Britain’s exit from the EU. “I must stress that we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone, and convert as many people as possible” says Panu Ylivainio, a Brexit specialist at Migri. We asked Ylivainio some of the most common questions British nationals seem to have about the new immigration application process, and you can find the answers at our original story here.

Political polling looks at leadership popularity

A new poll from Rural Future newspaper looks at which politicians voters want to see as Finland’s Prime Minister. Nearly a third of people want current incumbent Sanna Marin (SDP) to be the next PM as well; with Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho in second place on 12% and National Coalition Party leader Petter Orpo on 11%. The poll finds that Sanna Marin not only receives support from her own party’s voter but also from voters of other parties as well: including 18% of Centre Party supporters, 52% of Green League supporters 53% of Left Alliance voters, 8% of Finns Party supporters and 6% of NCP supporters. Meanwhile the leaders of the Greens and Left Alliance are not so popular among their own party’s voters: just 19% of Greens think their leader Maria Ohisalo should be the next PM, and 25% of Left Alliance supporters want to see their party’s leader Li Andersson as Finland’s next prime minister. There were 1,020 Finnish adults surveyed for this new poll between 9th and 14th October with a margin of error of three percentage points.

Report: More than a million people waiting for dentist appointments

More than a million people in Finland are waiting for visits to the dentist, after their appointment times were delayed or canceled during this year’s coronavirus pandemic. According to a Lännen Media investigation there were about 10% fewer visits to oral health care appointments in September compared with the year before, and cumulatively there’s a ‘dentistry debt’ of about 1.3 million visits backed up already. Non-emergency dental care began to close down in March in most hospital districts and non-urgent appointment were postponed in particular for at-risk patients. According to the Finnish Dental Association it could take years to clear the backlog of patients waiting to be seen.   

PM waits for second Covid-19 test after Brussels return

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) is waiting on the results of a second coronavirus test on Monday. She’s been self-isolating over the weekend after cutting short her attendance at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, after it was revealed Finns Party MP Tom Packalén became the first Member of the Finnish Parliament to test positive for Covid-19. Marin had been in the same committee meeting as the MP earlier in the week before traveling to Brussels and left the meeting as a precaution. She already tested negative upon return to Finland but is now waiting for a second negative test.

Monday morning weather

It’s a cold start to the week in many places, and an unsettled weather picture across the country. In Western Lapland expect temperatures down to -5°C this morning, warming up to a few degrees above freezing for the rest of the country. There’s some wet snow in the forecast for Northern Ostrobothnia and some parts of Central Finland, as well as in the eastern border around Joensuu. The best of the sunshine on Monday morning is in the southeast around Lappeenranta an Imatra.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 19th October 2020 / Credit: FMI