Morning headlines: Monday 20th April 2020

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

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Minister of Justice: Travel restrictions can’t be taken lightly

Finland’s Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) says that despite criticisms about imposing the Uusimaa lockdown in the first place – and more criticism when it was  lifted suddenly last week – the government stuck strictly to medical and legal advice when deciding what to do. Henriksson, who has been the leader of her party for the last four years, also stressed that introducing restrictions on one part of the country was not a simple decision. “The imposition of travel restrictions can’t be taken lightly in a democratic and free society because respect for law and human rights are some of the most fundamental values in our society in Finland” she tells News Now Finland. The Justice Minister says restrictions have worked in flattening the curve, keeping hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, and the government now hopes Finns will be sensible when it comes to keeping travel to a minimum. Read more at our original story here.

Finland’s first same-sex adoptions confirmed

The Rainbow Families organisation Sateenkaariperheet confirms Finland’s first two same-sex adoptions. It comes three years after marriage equality was introduced. A female couple and a male couple have both adopted infants in the capital city region. The counselling period which is part of the adoption process, and which looks at applicants’ readiness to be parents, can take several years. Sateenkaariperheet says there are several same-sex couples currently in adoption counseling, with more waiting to start the counseling process. Some parents hope for a child through domestic adoption while others are going the international adoption route.

Elderly care home deaths to be included in statistics

From today any deaths of elderly people in care homes will be added to the official coronavirus statistics for the first time. Until now, Finnish healthcare authorities have only been counting fatalities in hospital, meaning the latest statistics which show 94 deaths are likely to be skewed. Officials say there are likely to be dozens more deaths added to that tally when all Covid-19 deaths are included in the figures. Read more here.

Helsinki public transport schedules reduced

HSL is reducing public transport in the capital city region, after a 70% drop in passenger numbers. From today buses will switch to a reduced summer schedule. While metro, tram and train services will continue to operate using their current timetables for the time being, buses will see cuts to extended night services; school bus routes; and weekend services. HSL says that with a reduced summer schedule they can ensure that public transport remains as reliable as possible during the coronavirus epidemic.

GALLERY: Spring awakening for Finland’s wild brown bears

Despite the current coronavirus restrictions – and after the dark snowless winter months – spring has reached at least the southern half of Finland. In the east of the country however, brown bears are waking up from their hibernation in the forests along the border with Russia, and it’s a good idea to be extra careful if you’re hiking in that part of Finland. After no food for up to six month, the bears are hungry and probably grumpy too. Although brown bears prefer to eat lots of forest berries before their autumn hibernation, when they wake up in spring they’re on the look out for meat to gain weight and build muscle. Luckily, they tend to avoid humans and prefer to hunt elk instead. Check out our gallery of bear pictures. 

Monday morning weather

It’s a bright and sunny start to the week across almost all of the country for Monday morning. A small band of rain in Lapland moves to the east as the morning goes on. Otherwise expect clear skies and temperatures ranging from +3°C in Inari in the far northeast, to +5°C in Oulu, +6°C in Vaasa and down the west coast to Turku and Åland, +8°C for Hanko in the far south.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 20th April 2020 / Credit: FMI