Morning headlines: Thursday 3rd December 2020

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

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More vaccine strategy details expected 

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and THL, are expected to give more details this morning about the roll-out strategy for Covid-19 vaccines. Krista Kiuru (SDP) the Minister of Family and Basic Services is holding a press conference where she will outline the official vaccine strategy as agreed by the government in a late night Wednesday session. Earlier this week public health officials said in general they expected the first approved vaccines to come to Finland early in the new year, with healthcare workers among the first to be inoculated. The government has said everyone in Finland will be offered the chance to get the vaccine free of charge. We’ll have a full report when Kiuru’s press conference concludes.

New coronavirus warnings sent out by text message

Public health officials have started sending out SMS text messages warning of the increasing cases of coronavirus in Finland. It’s part of a communications strategy to reach as many people as possible with accurate information in partnership with telephone service providers and the Emergency Response Centre, and was used twice earlier this year to send Covid-19-related messaging. The latest texts, sent in Finnish, Swedish, English and Northern Sámi on Wednesday afternoon, tell people that “COVID-19 is worsening in Finland. Protect yourself & others. Please follow regional recommendations & restrictions” and gives a link to the THL website with more information.

Police investigate Oulu councilor’s video broadcast

Police in Oulu say they’re investigating a suspected incident of threatening language and defamation by city councilor Junes Lokka. The alleged incident took place during the time of an Oulu City Council online meeting on 9th November, with police clarifying that it didn’t happen in the official broadcast on the city’s website but rather on Lokka’s own video broadcast which was happening at the same time. Lokka is a far-right politician who has previously been convicted in court of ethnic agitation for uploading a video of anti-immigrant and Islamophobic speech to social media. He also has a reputation for insulting people online including calling them “fucking idiots,” “whores,” and “disturbed lunatics” according to Journalisti magazine. He’s currently involved in an ongoing court case over freedom of speech issues with a journalist who called him a “Nazi clown” and a “racist” in a private Facebook group.

Fortum says it will be carbon neutral by 2050

Finnish state-owned energy company Fortum says it plans to make all its operations carbon neutral by 2050. The new goal is outlined in the company’s latest strategy paper released on Thursday morning. As a first step CO2 emissions from European production will be reduced by at least half of 2019 levels by 2030; with a target of reaching carbon neutral status by in Europe by 2035 at the latest. Fortum says it is now Europe’s 3rd biggest producer of carbon-free electricity but has received sustained criticism from environmental groups after buying a majority stake in a German energy company which opened a new coal-fired power plant earlier this year.

Coffee shop chain offers ‘Netflix’-style drinks option

One of the biggest coffee shop chains in Finland, Espresso House, is launching the region’s first an all-you-can-drink option for customers. For a monthly fee of €14.90 on their app the Swedish-based group will let customers drink as many cups of filter coffee or tea as they want. Orders don’t even have to be given to staff in the queue, they can just be picked up straight from the counter – the only limitation is one cup per hour, so that subscribers aren’t getting free drinks for their friends. “In other areas, more is being done all the time. There are gym memberships, Netflix and whatever, but on the food and beverage side, no player has gone to great lengths yet” CEO John Nylén tells Talouselama. The company has 460 branches across the Nordic region, with 57 in Finland.

Thursday morning weather

It’s another cloudy and overcast start to the day across the whole country. Expect patches of icy rain or wet snow across parts of central Lapland, the Ostrobothnia coast and around Kuopio on the eastern border. Elsewhere expect temperatures hovering either side of zero. Later this evening new rain approaches from the southwest.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Thursday morning 3rd December 2020 / Credit: FMI