Coronavirus round-up: Friday 20th March 2020

Here's our evening round-up of all the latest Covid-19 coronavirus news from Finland.

Coronavirus graphic / Credit: iStock

Here’s our evening round-up of coronavirus news from Finland:

  • 450 confirmed cases of Covid-19
  • Government unveils €15 billion bailout package
  • Finland’s small businesses already hard hit by coronavirus outbreak
  • Finnair gets €600 million funding boost
  • More money for police, Border Guard and rescue services
  • Kämp Collection to close 8 out of 10 Finnish hotels

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare THL says there are 450 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Finland.

The patients infected with the virus are 61% men and 39% women – and so far there have been no reported deaths.

However the number of people who actually have coronavirus is likely to be much higher as not everyone with symptoms is being tested, only people in high risk groups like those with underlying medical conditions, or key workers in healthcare for example. THL has estimated that the actual number of people infected with coronavirus in Finland is likely to be 20 to 30 times higher than this.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms, or anyone returning to Finland from abroad, is being told to self-isolate for 14 days and only seek medical assistance if their health takes a turn for the worse.

Government unveils €15 billion bailout package

The Government has announced a €15 billion bailout package to prop up the economy and support businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a Helsinki press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) outlined the steps her coalition government will take, which include up to €15 billion of financing, mainly in the form of financial loans and guarantees.

Although there’s little in the way of direct cash for small businesses, as has been seen in some other EU countries, the package is being welcomed by experts.

“The hot take is that this is good news, and the confidence is back on track” says Sami Pakarinen, Chief Economic Policy Advisor at the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK.

Read more about the bailout package, and expert analysis, at our story here.

Finland’s small businesses already hit hard by coronavirus

Business owners across the country are already feeling the impact on the economy as customers stay away during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week the Central Chamber of Commerce warned that more than 30% of their member companies were worried about going bankrupt and small business owners have been speaking out about those fears, as the Government unveiled a new bailout package that puts an emphasis on getting into more debt to avoid going out of business altogether.

We spoke to business owners in Porvoo, Kirkkonummi and Helsinki about the challenges they are facing. One business has had to lay off nine staff; another says community support is keeping the business open for now; while the other says they’re trying to switch to more e-commerce sales.

Read more about these businesses and the impact coronavirus is having on them at our original story here.

Finnair gets €600 million funding boost 

The Finnish Government has decided to give a €600 million funding guarantee to Finnair, to help it through the current crisis.

The national airline has had to cut its capacity by 90% and cancel hundreds of flights over the coming months as passenger numbers drop, and as countries impose travel restrictions.

“The coronavirus is already now the biggest crisis in the 100-year history of aviation” says Finnair’s CEO Topi Manner.

“Even though Finnair is among the strongest airlines at the start of the coronavirus crisis and we have a strong cash position and a healthy balance sheet, with this plan we aim to secure that we weather the exceptional situation and, considering the circumstances, are able to continue our operations from a steady basis once this situation is over.”

The funding plan will still have to be approved by Parliament, but with the funding boost Finnair can solidify its cash position and business continuity even if the coronavirus epidemic goes on for longer than currently anticipated.

More money for police, Border Guard, rescue services 

The Government is proposing an extra €9.2 million in a supplementary budget, to hel police, Border Guards and rescue services for expenditure arising from the coronavirus outbreak.

Money for the police will go towards hiring additional workforce and covering increases in occupational health expenditure, cleaning and supplies.

“Additional personnel will facilitate the workload in the police units and enable us to maintain the security of the police and citizens at the highest possible level” says Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green).

The extra Border Guard cash will be spent on securing the country’s internal and external border security with the EU’s borders and Finland’s borders closed for the next month; while money is being earmarked for the rescue services to buy more personal protective equipment and supplies.

Kämp Collection to close 8 out of 10 Finland hotels 

The luxury hotel group Kämp Collection is closing 8 out of 10 hotels in Finland by Wednesday 1st April due to the coronavirus crisis.

The company already started talks that could result in all 600 employees potentially being laid off for up to 90 days.

The hotels being closed are GLO Hotel Airport, GLO Hotel Sello, GLO Hotel Art, Klaus K Hotel, Hotel Haven, Hotel Lilla Roberts, Hotel Fabian and Hotel St. George. Two other hotels in the group Hotel Kämp and the nearby GLO Hotel Kluuvi will both remain open.

“THroughout its operational history, Hotel Kämp has not closed its doors but has remained open for years as a hospital and a base for foreign press correspondents” says Laura Tarkka, CEO of the Kämp Collection Hotels.