This spring has been nothing like any of us expected. Our lives have been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The epidemic started emerging in Finland at the end of February. Before that, we had watched the virus spread from China to Iran and to Italy. We had time to learn and to prepare.
The government‘s goal from the beginning was to slow down the spread of the epidemic. Social distancing, teleworking and closing schools have created difficulties for most of us. Even more so for the restaurants, travel companies etc. who were forced to close their businesses. It has not been easy, but it has been necessary.
Some measures have been successful but there have also been mistakes. But mistakes can be learned from when they are acknowledged. Travel restrictions and controlled quarantines for all who were returning to Finland from abroad came too late. Acquiring protective equipment failed completely. In the beginning, there were problems with targeting financial support to those who needed it the most. And what touched the Finns most was that we were not been able to protect all of the senior citizens from the coronavirus and due to that, many of them have lost their lives in nursing homes.
Nevertheless, Finland has been blessed and spared from the worst. We can all be proud that we have taken sudden restrictions seriously. We have continued this for almost two months now. Some people are getting bored of staying home. The spring weather is inviting us to travel to summer cottages. The infection rate has been moderate. Carefulness does not seem so important anymore. But the danger is not over yet!
Right now, we stand at a crucial crossroads. Some restrictions have been lifted. People are hopeful:
“some people got ill, but I haven’t been feeling sick. It is not a problem if I break the rules once.” These kinds of thoughts are very natural but also dangerous. We do not know enough about this invisible enemy. Some researchers have already warned about lifting restrictions too fast and that a second wave could be worse than the original one.
I know that all of us want to get back to normal and that we miss our routines, friends, and loved ones. Sooner or later, the time of social distancing will come to an end. Society will slowly return to its’ normal pace. Until that, I encourage all of us to stay patient. Up to the present, Finland has been able to restrict the epidemic successfully. If we stick through this now, we will most probably get back to normal more quickly!
Mika Niikko, Member of Parliament, Finns Party.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of Parliament are encouraged to contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
Adam Oliver Smith - HT (Ed.)