Sunday 9/27/20

Marin to Parliament: "The Government has made mistakes"

Among those mistakes, Marin cited the controversies derived from subsidies to companies by Business Finland and the failed purchases of health protective equipment. The Prime Minister also announced a transfer to a less restrictive scenario. According to the National Broadcasting Company, schools may reopen on 14 May.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Photo: Suomen Eduskunta/Finnish-Parliament.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Photo: Suomen Eduskunta/Finnish-Parliament.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin admits that the government has made mistakes in handling the crisis stemming from the Covid-19 epidemic. "We have had to make decisions in the midst of uncertainty and under severe time presure," she emphasized.

Marín (SDP) visited the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) on Wednesday to explain the measures taken in order to curb the epidemic. Before the MPs, the head of the Government made a humble speech, in which she admitted that "in the midst of this crisis, the Government has also made mistakes."

As examples of these mistakes, the head of the government cited first the "unclear situation" experienced at the Helsinki airport at the beginning of this crisis. A situation that allowed the entry into the country of thousands of Finns who returned from other countries without being subjected to medical controls. According to the Prime Minister, this situation "went on for too long" thought it "should have been resolved more quickly." This was later rectified and the Government imposed controls upon arrivals.

Later, without leaving the chapter dedicated to errors, Marin referred to the recent controversies derived from subsidies to companies by Business Finland and the failed purchases of protective equipment.

"The targeting of business subsidies is being investigated and solutions are being sought by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. We still face challenges in obtaining protective equipment and healthcare supplies, both in Finland and in many other countries, but we are looking into solutions to deal with this issue," she said.

"Mistakes will also be made in the future"

The head of the government appealed to the humanity of those who make the decisions and to the difficulty of always being right. Especially in the midst of a scenario as uncertain as the one caused by this crisis:

"It is absolutely certain that mistakes will also be made in the future. This is because we cannot know everything or predict all possible scenarios. People also fail and make mistakes because we are human," she stressed.

For these reasons, Marin emphasized it is "extremely important" that the authorities record their experiences in this crisis. "We must learn lessons from the crisis and, once the acute situation is over, we must carefully assess the functioning of our central government, cooperation between authorities and our national preparedness for emergencies.".

"Based on our experiences so far, I can say that we have lacked the instruments needed to deal with times of crisis, and we have had to create them along the way under far too tight a preparation schedule," the Prime Minister told Parliament.

"The disease is unpredictable"

Marin said the Government was also "surprised by the epidemic and its social and economic effects," even though she thinks "Finland has a high level of preparedness for different situations when compared to many other countries."

She also remarked that "the situation is still very serious. The disease is unpredictable."

However, she believes the efforts to curb the progress of the epidemic in Finland "have been successful so far." For that reason, she explained, the Government is considering that Finland can transfer gradually to a less strict scenario. "The restrictive measures cannot all be lifted at once, because the situation is still serious."

According to Marin, Finland´s hybrid strategy for the future will focus on a "test, trace, isolate and treat" approach, alongside the controlled dismantling of restrictive measures.

Reopening the schools

The preparation group appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office and led by Permanent Secretary Martti Hetemäki will draw up a plan by 1 May for lifting the restrictive measures in a timely manner and moving to the next stage in curbing the progression of the disease.

An informal Government meeting on the matter is scheduled for Sunday 3 May. However, the Government is already holding negotiations on early childhood education and other schooling so that education providers can prepare to resume contact teaching.

According to the National Broadcasting Company (Yle), preparations are being made to reopen schools on 14 May.

Government decided to close schools since 18 March. The closure was later extended until 13 May.

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