Morning headlines: Monday 4th January 2021

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

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Less than a third of cost support applications for businesses approved

The second round of applications for financial support from businesses whose incomes have been severely impacted by the coronavirus epidemic is underway, but less than a third of applications are being approved by authorities. More than €17 million has so far been paid to companies during this second round, with a maximum of €550 million in the pot, with applications open until the end of February. However, Lännen Media reports that most of the rejected applications are either due to the company’s industry not being included on the list of sectors which qualify for the payment, or because the compensation due would fall below the deductible threshold of €2,000. Previously, there was criticism that the criteria to apply for the aid was too strict, with much of the money going unclaimed in the first funding round last year.

First vaccinations for Helsinki care home residents begins today

The first coronavirus vaccinations for residents of the city’s care homes will begin today. Last week just a thousand frontline healthcare workers in the capital received a vaccination but this week’s goal is to and this week the goal is to vaccinate 2,000 more people. “As vaccines are received, they are given immediately” says Leena Turpeinen, Director of Health and Substance Abuse Services in Helsinki, who says that all frontline healthcare staff, caregivers, care home residents, and other critical workers in hospitals will continue through the end of January. After that the programme will roll out to other elderly people, and those with severe underlying health conditions. Helsinki has about 4,400 residents in 24-hour care services.

Newspaper: Half of accident investigation recommendations not implemented

Almost half of the recommendations issued by the Finnish Accident Investigation Board Otkes in the last decade have not been implemented. That’s according to a new story published by Uutissuomalainen newspaper group on Monday which found that between 2010 and 2020 Otkes issued 586 safety recommendations based on its accident investigations, but that just 316 were actually implemented. Some other recommendations were only partly implemented. Although there is no legal requirement for a company or industry to implement changes recommended by Otkes, many of them are recommended after incidents that involved a loss of life, and investigators have suggested changes that could prevent loss of life or injury in future.

12,000 new recruits start conscript service 

The winter’s intake of conscripts begin their military service today, with 12,000 people reporting for duty. Most of the new recruits (9,500) will be joining the army with the remainder going to the Navy, Air Force and Border Guard. The exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic have already been impacting conscription duties since last spring. There’s limited visits allowed to garrison areas, swearing-in ceremonies can be watched online instead; and conscripts will also be divided into three groups rotation training and days off to minimize contact and limit the potential spread of any Covid-19 infections.

Monday morning weather

It’s a wintry start to the week across the whole country, with temperatures dipping as low as -23°C in parts of southern Lapland and snowfall in other parts of the country too. Temperatures stay below freezing as the week moves on as well, with meteorologists saying ‘thermal winter’ has arrived in all parts of Finland except Åland. The thickest snow cover in the country is currently measured at the Enontekiö Kaaresuvanto weather observation station, where there’s 50cm of snow.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 4th January 2020 / Credit: FMI