Morning headlines: Tuesday 4th August 2020

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

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Contact tracing app launches in test phase today

A new mobile phone application which helps public health officials track and trace cases of coronavirus is being launched on Tuesday for a month of testing. The first people to use the new app on a voluntary basis will be healthcare workers in Uusimaa and Tampere. Anyone using the app who gets a positive Covid-19 test result can put the information into the app and then anyone the user has been in contact with – over a certain period of time, and within a certain distance – will get a message saying they’ve been close to someone with coronavirus. The system is completely anonymous and no personal data is sent or stored. “On a trial basis, we want to make sure this whole chain works. The application must be clear, easy to use and absolutely secure for users, and the phone must reliably identify close contacts” says Aleksi Yrttiaho, Director of Information Management at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL. The final version of the app will be available for members of the public to download in September. Read more about the new contact tracing app and how it works at our original story here.

Tax refund day for 1.9 million people

Tax authorities have paid August refunds to around 1.9 million personal customers in Finland today. Anyone who doesn’t get a refund now will get it between September and December. In a statement, Vero says that people can check their own tax situation and any possible refund date from the OmaVeros website. There are some common reasons why a tax refund might not have been paid today even if it was anticipated, including not notifying Vero of the right bank account details, if the customer has previous tax debts, or if the refund is less than €10.

Face mask decision for capital region public transport

The Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) tells Helsingin Sanomat that a decision could soon come to make it mandatory to wear face and mouth coverings on public transport in the capital city region. Vapaavuori is expected to meet with regional healthcare experts this week to discuss how it would work in practice. It comes as the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL could be set to recommend more use of face masks in public places as another way to combat the spread of a second wave of coronavirus in Finland, and slow transmission levels. No official recommendation has been made yet but it is expected in the coming days.

Young entrepreneurs launching Helsinki-Turku bus service

Two young entrepreneurs are set to launch a brand new bus service linking Helsinki and Turku with low-cost fares. Twins Henri and Eero Autio are just 21-years old and still studying at university, but they’ve identified a gap in the transport market and are ready to start nanoBus later this month – despite the uncertainties of commuting during the coronavirus crisis. “We are quite different because there are no other students running a company like this. And in Finland there is a few big [bus] companies and not so tough competition, and that’s why we decided to try” explains Eero. The new no-frills bus service will operate three time per day in each direction on week days, and two times in each direction on weekends with fares starting at €2.99 and rising to a maximum of €4.99 for a one-way trip. Read more about the challenges the twins face launching the new service at our original story here.

LISTEN: Podkäst covers politics, Olympics and pizza 

The new episode of our summer Podkäst is now available. On this week’s show Centre Party leader Katri Kulmuni talks about her summer ‘listening tour’ where she’s been meeting hundreds of voters across the country – she also talks about the challenges to her leadership, and why she felt she had to resign as finance minister earlier this spring. Hurdler Annimari Korte has her sights set on the rescheduled Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics after hitting the qualifying time at each of her meets this summer – making her the fastest Finnish woman ever to run 100m hurdles. And there’s only two places in Finland where you can get authentic and certified Neopolitan-style pizza: we’re talking with Sami Benamed from Via Tribunali about what makes his pizzas so special. Subscribe, download or listen at Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or find the latest clips on the News Now Finland social media channels.

Tuesday morning weather

It’s a mixed picture for Tuesday morning’s weather forecast, with a fair bit of cloud cover over much of the country and the best of the sunshine in Lapland. Rain is moving in later today to Ostrobothnia, across the north, and along the eastern borders. There’s rain too in the forecast for the southwest although the temperatures will still rise to around +22°C by the afternoon. Temperatures for Tuesday morning range from +12°C around Inari in the far northeast to +17°C for Hanko in the south.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Tuesday morning 4th August 2020 / Credit: FMI