Old Porvoo music school building destroyed by fire
A large wooden building in the centre of Porvoo has been destroyed by an overnight fire. Rescue crews were alerted around 05:00 on Wednesday morning to the fire at the intersection of Raatihuoneenkatu and Linnakoskenkatu and found the building already engulfed. The focus of firefighters was to stop the blaze from spreading to adjacent buildings but there has been so much water and fire damage to the old wooden building, which was previously used as a music school, that it is likely to be demolished. Nobody was injured in the building, which has not been used recently. Police estimate that traffic in Porvoo will be disrupted for several hours on Wednesday morning as both streets are closed near the site of the fire, and as firefighters clean up the scene. Investigators will also start their inquiries this morning into the cause of the fire.
Second day of government coronavirus budget talks
Government ministers and experts are meeting for the second day at House of the Estates in Helsinki to put together plans to spend their way out of the coronavirus crisis. According to the Bank of Finland Finland’s gross domestic product could shrink anywhere between 5% and 13% this year depending on how long the outbreak continues. “Even a relatively rapid recovery is still possible if the restrictive measures do not have to be maintained for a long time, and if a wave of corporate bankruptcy and high unemployment can be avoided” said Bank of Finland Governor Olli Rehn (Centre) in his presentation. Rehn has also stressed the importance of the EU working together and EU finance ministers, including Katri Kulmuni (Centre) met late Tuesday night to look at ways of alleviating the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. The meeting ended without reaching a common agreement, and one of the most divisive measures has been whether eurozone countries like Finland should take on common debts.
Few police coronavirus cases, but longer Uusimaa shifts
The National Police Board reports that there have been a few individual cases of coronavirus among police officers, but that they’ve so far been spared any acute crisis. Officials say there is a risk that one infected person could pass it along to others in a police station, potentially crippling its operations, but that has not yet happened. Meanwhile, the Finnish Police Federation says officers in Uusimaa are working 14 and 16 hour shifts maintaining the checkpoints at the region’s borders. This is up from the usual 12 hour shift. The Häme Police Department is trying to alleviate the longer shifts by hiring recently-retired officers back to share some of the workload.
Messages for coronavirus nurses
The Nurses’ Association has launched a WhatsApp number where people can send their voice messages of encouragement and thanks to staff working during the coronavirus epidemic. The messages are forwarded to nurses through the union’s own channels and also broadcast on the radio. The maximum length of the messages is 10 seconds – so keep it brief – and the number is 044 529 0032. The union says this has been a particularly challenging time for nursing staff as coronavirus has spread rapidly, and they wanted to offer a channel for people to show their appreciation.
National Roma Day celebrated
Today is National Roma Day, celebrated around the world and in Finland to highlight Roma language and culture. The first Roma people to arrive in Finland came in the 16th century when the country was part of Sweden. When Finland became independent in 1917 the Roma became Finnish citizens under the new constitution. There are tens of thousands of Finnish Roma.
Wednesday morning weather
A mild and sunny start across the whole country for Wednesday morning, with temperatures above freezing everywhere. As the day goes on the temperatures could reach +12°C in the south and west but it will be windy in many areas so it’s going to feel a little cooler than it really is.