Morning headlines: Thursday 13th August 2020

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Face mask decision expected today

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL is expected to issue new guidelines on Thursday afternoon with strong recommendations on wearing face masks to cover nose and mouth in certain circumstances. That could mean the advice is to wear masks on public transport and other crowded places like shopping malls and stores, or other times when it’s not possible to maintain social distancing. The Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori and leaders of other cities have been pressing the government to make a national policy on wearing face masks and he says one of the delays has been a practical one – how to ensure low income people can get hold of masks. Read more of the mayor’s comments on face masks and coronavirus testing delays in the capital at our story here.

Government ministers distance themselves from coronavirus quarantine

Government ministers have distanced themselves from a statement earlier this week that all arriving passengers at Finnish border crossings would be tested for coronavirus and face fines or three months in prison if they don’t self-quarantine on arrival. Minister of Family and Basic Services Krista Kiuru made the announcement, but speaking after government discussions on Wednesday evening the prime minister said these were not decisions for politicians, but flor local public health officials to decide. The PM confirmed that Kiuru hadn’t discussed the subject with her government colleagues before making the announcement. Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) told reporters “I don’t think anyone has properly acknowledged Minister Kiuru’s presentation or understood what was behind i […] the ministry or the government cannot impose those quarantines”.

New budget proposals being published today

The Ministry of Finance will publish its 2021 budget proposal today. Minister of Finance Matti Vanhanen (Centre) has already revealed that the whole financial package is worth €61.6 billion and it means government debt will rise to €132 billion next year. The annual Finnish budget proposal season has a set pattern: after the Ministry of Finance has its own internal discussions about the budget and comes up with a proposal, it then negotiates with other ministries, and after that the government outlines the budget in the middle of September, before it needs to be approved by parliament later in autumn.

Marimekko starts layoff talks

Finnish design company Marimekko is starting co-determination talks today, with a view to cutting a number of staff – although the company isn’t saying exactly how many jobs might be lost. Marimekko’s operating profits fell by a million euros in the second quarter of this year compared with 2019, and net sales decreased by 20% to €23.3 million. The company is also looking at how to reorganise its structures and streamline the way it does business. “I am extremely sorry that with the reorganisation and streamlining of activities we are unfortunately forced to start co-determination negotiations in Finland” says CEO Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko. The talks about job cuts will cover all of Marimekko’s operations in Finland except retail store personnel and employees at the company’s Herttoniemi textile printing plant in Helsinki.

Thursday morning weather

There’s scattered showers around the country during Thursday, but the day begins with cloudy skies and cooler temperatures over Lapland and down much of the eastern border. The best of the sunshine is in southern, central and western areas with temperatures ranging from +10°C in the north to +16°C in Oulu, +15°C in Jyväskylä, +14°C in Vaasa, +13 and sunshine for Lappeenranta, and +17°C for Åland. There’s cloud cover over the capital city region as well with temperatures on Thursday morning around +14°C.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Thursday morning 13th August 2020 / Credit: FMI