Morning headlines: Wednesday 12th August 2020

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

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Li Andersson: ‘Coronavirus back-to-school discussion has moved on since spring’

Finnish students are heading back to school on Wednesday, after an unprecedented year that saw classes suspended during the worst of the coronavirus epidemic in spring, and a switch to distance learning for tens of thousands of pupils. Although classes resumed for two weeks at the end of May, this month still marks a major test for educators, parents, local authorities and students: from kindergarten to university. “The same type of guidelines will be enacted as was during the spring which means all students and all children should take of their hand hygiene, education providers should make sure there’s more space in school facilities than what there is normally, and that different groups are being separated during the day” explains Education Minister Li Andersson. The minister also says new laws make it much easier for regional education and healthcare authorities to switch to distance learning or a blended model of contact teaching and in-class education if there are local coronavirus flare-ups, and that the government doesn’t want to go back to a situation where all children in the whole country are moved to distance learning if it’s not necessary. Read more at our original story here.

Beirut bombing: Finland’s top diplomat in Lebanon says the anger is tangible

Finland’s Acting Ambassador in Beirut says a week after a massive explosion and shockwave left widespread destruction in the city, there’s a tangible feeling of rage and frustration. At least 200 people were killed, 6,000 more injured, and 300,000 left homeless in last Tuesday’s chemical explosion. In the aftermath sorrow turned to anger as local residents took to the streets demanding accountability. Diplomat Aki Kauppinen says “you can definitely feel that people are tired. Tired with just coping. Just coping. You often hear that Lebanon has often risen from the ashes, but people seem to be tired of rising from the ashes. They don’t want to just keep surviving and coping and rising from the ashes.” Finland has given emergency aid through the International Red Cross, and sent specialist rescue crews to the city, and Kauppinen says that people “want stability, they want democracy, they want prosperity like all of us.” Read more at our original story here.

No HSL ticket price increase, despite coronavirus loses 

Capital region transport operator HSL will not be increasing its ticket price, despite losing an estimated €100 to €120 million losses after people started working from home during the coronavirus crisis. At a Helsinki City Environment Committee meeting on Tuesday evening a range of options to balance HSL’s books were discussed with a decision to look at more funding through municipality shares to help with the immediate shortfall. Deputy Mayor Anni Sinnemäki (Green) says that “public transport is important in the daily lives of citizens, and its competitiveness must be maintained.”

Government ‘night school’ meeting today 

The government is holding a ‘night school’ meeting today, the first cabinet meeting after the summer holidays. On the agenda are discussions about equality issues, and a progress report on the coronavirus situation. There will also be a separate meeting to specifically address the need for more action to counter a potential second wave of coronavirus infections in Finland. On Monday, Minister of Family and Basic Services Krista Kiuru announced a strict new regime of mandatory testing and self-isolation for arriving passengers at Finnish borders – including fines and a possible prison sentence for anyone breaking the rules. However it turns out that Kiuru was premature with her announcement, which lacked many concrete details, as the government is only supposed to start debating the issue today.

HMD Global raises $230 million in funding

Espoo-based tech company HMD Global, which has a license to make and sell Nokia-branded mobile phones, has raised $230 million in funding. The company says it will use the money to produce 5G smartphones; promote its digital services; expand operations in Brazil, Africa and India; and help the company strengthen its position as a mobile phone provider and as a provider of mobile services. “The additional funding we receive further strengthens our long-term business strategy and is a testament to our common mission to make modern mobile technology accessible to all” says company chairman Jean-Francois Baril. HMD Global has an exclusive license for Nokia phones and tablets, and designs a range of smartphones and basic phones.

Wednesday morning weather

A low pressure front is moving in from the west, and it brings with it cooler temperatures and the chance of rain as the day goes on for the north and west – with some thunderstorms as well. This morning the best of the unbroken sunshine is around Kilpisjärvi in the northwest and Turku in the southwest. Elsewhere there’s extensive cloud cover but the sun peeks through. Expect temperatures of +10°C to 14°C across Lapland; and +12°C to +14°C for the rest of the country.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 12th August 2020 / Credit: FMI