Morning headlines: Thursday 17th September 2020

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

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Hurricane-speed winds as autumn storm Aila causes damage

Autumn storm Aila hit Åland and the west coast of Finland overnight with gusts of wind up to 35 metres per second, waves in the Gulf of Bothnia up to 9 metres high, and this morning at least 60,000 people left without electricity. The Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI has red warnings that dangerously strong winds will continue during the day for the west coast on land; the winds will later move into southern and eastern areas from the west as the low pressure front continues to hang over Finland. Autumn storm Aila also brings plenty of rain as well as high winds with flood warnings in place for Central Finland, North Savo and the western parts of North Ostrobothnia. By 22:00 on Thursday night the strongest winds will be in the southeast of the country as the storm weakens and moves into Russia.

‘Patient Zero’ – Tracking a coronavirus cluster

At least seven ice hockey players on an amateur team in Central Uusimaa have been confirmed with Covid-19 but now other hockey players, football players and at least one rugby player is self-isolating and waiting on test results after possible exposures. The speed at which the virus can move among young people involved in everyday hobby activities is highlighted by healthcare authorities who issued mass exposure notifications for a football tournament and two ice rinks. I was the first one who got the symptoms, and I have no idea where I got it from. I could pick it up anywhere, shop, ice halls, I don’t know really where I got it” says Roni Klemola from the KJT Haukat amateur hockey team, who is recovering from coronavirus. The Director of Sports at the City of Vantaa says that if you have even slight symptoms do not take part in any hobby sports activities where there’s an increased chance to pass on coronavirus in close quarters. “the current coronavirus situation, everyone needs to be responsible when they’re deciding whether to participate or not” says Veli-Matti Kallislahti. Read more about the spread of virus exposures at our original story here.

Government ‘forgot’ about restaurant and tourism industry in budget

The Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa says the government ‘forgot’ about the restaurant and tourism industry in the 2021 budget, announced on Wednesday. MaRa has joined with the service sector trade union PAM to call for temporary VAT cuts to help businesses like hotels, bars and restaurants already hit hard by the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic. MaRa’s CEO Timo Lappi says it’s not just lack of tourism, but other changes in working and social life during the crisis, that hit their industry hard. “Restrictions on travel and assembly, as well as teleworking and study, have a very negative effect on the demand for services in the tourism and restaurant sector” says Lappi. He adds that there are few guests in hotels compared to normal, and the situation is most difficult in the capital city region and northern Finland where are are few foreign tourists and business travelers.

Final day of Kuopio school attack trial

Proceedings get underway Thursday in the last day of the trial of Joel Marin, the only suspect in a deadly sword attack on students and staff at South Savo Vocational College in Kuopio last October. Marin, a Finn born in 1994, faces one charge of murder and 20 counts of attempted murder. He was shot by police and injured during the attack. One woman was killed and another nine people injured as Martin allegedly went on a rampage with the sword after first starting a fire at the college, which is inside Kuopio’s Herman Shopping Centre. All the evidence has now been presented and lawyers for both the defence and prosecution can give their closing summation of the case. The prosecutor is demanding life in prison for Marin.

Love and Anarchy film festival begins

The annual Helsinki International Film Festival ‘Love and Anarchy’ begins today – like other events, modified to make social distancing possible during the time of coronavirus restrictions. The festival features international films as well as domestic productions and has achieved ‘gender parity’ with half of the films directed by women or non-binary persons. In cinemas no more than a third of each venue’s tickets will be sold to leave space around audience members in all directions – however the number of screenings of each movie has been increased to try and ensure as many people as possible get the chance to see the films they want. There’s also going to be extra cleaning in place for the cinemas, and more hand sanitizer available.