Morning headlines: Thursday 26th March 2020

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Uusimaa travel restrictions

The government has announced new travel restrictions for some 1.7 million people in the Uusimaa region – which will likely start on Friday and last until 19th April. When the restrictions come into place it means Uusimaa residents will be able to travel around the region; return to their homes if they are in another part of the country; or travel out of the region for some work reasons – but otherwise they’re being told to stay in place. Police will have the power to stop people and issue fines if they don’t have a valid reason to travel into or out of Uusimaa, but ministers are counting on people exercising good personal responsibility to stick with the new rules, rather than on police enforcement. Read more – including explanations from the Interior Minister and the Minister of Transport on what the travel restrictions will look like in practice, at our original story here.

Police Chief says they’ll set up roadblocks 

Finland’s Chief of Police Seppo Kolehmainen says the new restrictions on movement don’t give police extra powers, but they will be enforcing the legislation. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday morning he said that police will be visible on the roads to monitor the situation in the first few days to make sure people are sticking to the rules of not traveling into our out of Uusimaa without a valid reason. Police could request extra assistance from the Defence Forces, the Border Guard or call in retired officers and Police University students if they need to. Kolehmainen says checkpoints will be placed on major roads and smaller roads in the coming days.

More repatriation flights for Finns abroad

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Finnair have announced more special flights to repatriate Finns who are stuck abroad and haven’t been able to get home. There will be two flights from Portugal and one from Cyprus on Friday. “There are dozens of Finnish tourists in each destination, without any real opportunity to return to Finland. In addition, government restrictions, especially in Cyprus, make the situation significantly more difficult” says Antti Putkonen, Head of Consular Affairs Unit at the ministry. The flights leave from Paphos, Funchal and Faro. In addition, Finnair has a special flight from Miami to Helsinki on Friday to help repatriate Finnish tourists who have been stuck in the USA.

7 out of 10 satisfied with government coronavirus response

A new poll shows that 7 out of 10 people are satisfied with the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis. The poll was carried out for Uutissuomalainen newspaper between 18th and 22nd March, and asked more than a thousand people – the government announced school closures on 16th March. There’s little regional variation in the poll results, although people aged over 70 and those earning more than €100,000 per year are particularly happy with the government’s response to the crisis. The one group of people least impressed with the government – just 46% – are supporters of the populist Finns Party opposition.

Thursday morning weather

It’s another bright and sunny start to the day across much of the country, and fairly mild although a little chilly in the northwest. The best of the sunshine is down the eastern half of Finland and the capital city region and into the southwest, although there’s some cloud cover over central areas, and into the southeast. There’s some rain in the forecast for parts of Ostrobothnia on Thursday morning and temperatures start the day between +2°C in Oulu to +6°C in Lappeenranta and Åland.

Finnish Meteorologial Institute forecast for Thursday morning 26th March 2020 / Credit: FMI