Lockdown in UK and France, Take 2: Are books and toys ‘nonessential’?

During spring in the U.K., gardeners couldn’t shop for seeds or compost, items deemed “nonessential.” In France, bookstores were off-limits, and residents were allowed to spend just one hour outside their homes for any reason. So with “COVID fatigue” rampant after the first wave of the pandemic, officials have had the challenging task of making rules to curb COVID-19’s spread that the public could abide, without bringing the economy to a standstill. 

Some governments created lists of essential items – forcing small businesses selling products like clothing, books, and toys to temporarily close, and large chains to block off such items to shoppers.

One concern is that consumers will permanently move to online platforms or chains. But small businesses are banking on consumers’ love for tradition to carry them through this rough patch.

“Even if we can’t say that all French people are interested in culture, there is certainly a great literary tradition in France and a love for real books,” says Bruno Péquignot, a sociology professor emeritus. “People will never put books in the trash can; always next to it, in case someone wants to take them. It’s a form of respect.”

Tenerife, Spain; and London, England

There they were, wedged between the sprinkles and the chocolate chips: a set of candles. Niamh O’Brien knew they weren’t vital to her boyfriend’s birthday celebration that evening, but they were mere inches from reach. Unfortunately, a stretch of red-and-white tape prevented her from going down this supermarket aisle; a plastic sheet draped over the shelves. 

With candles deemed a nonessential item in France’s second lockdown, Ms. O’Brien had a choice – buck the tradition this year, or duck under the tape and grab them.

“I asked the shop clerk if I could get the candles and he said no, so I asked if he could take them for me, but he said he wasn’t allowed,” says Ms. O’Brien, who was shopping in an E.Leclerc superstore in Toulouse. “So I snuck under the barrier, lifted up the plastic and took them. I also grabbed a birthday banner.” 

As France tapers off restrictions implemented to fight the second wave of the pandemic, the government has had the challenging task of making rules that the public could abide, without bringing the economy to a standstill. This past spring, residents were limited to one hour outside their homes, for any reason. But with “COVID fatigue” rampant, governments in Europe have been taking a softer approach to restrictions. In November, schools, transportation, and public services have remained open in France.     

In some parts of the U.K. and France, governments created lists of essential items, forcing small businesses selling products like clothing, books, and toys to temporarily close, and large chains to block off certain items to shoppers. The idea is to minimize people’s close contact with others and keep residents at home. 

But many shoppers and store owners said the decision to close certain establishments was misguided, and unfairly targets culture, entertainment, and self-care. There is also concern that shoppers will increasingly move to online platforms or chain stores in the suburbs, a possible long-term consequence for consumption habits long after lockdowns have been lifted. 

“The government says if we open bookstores we’ll have to open hair salons, florists and so-on, or that if people respect the lockdown we can have our small businesses back,” says Pierre Dutilleul, the managing director of the French Publishers Association, SNE. “It’s incomprehensible and absurd. When you can’t explain a decision, it probably means that it isn’t a good one.”

OK, what if we do it like this?

The debate over essential items exploded in France at the end of October, when the government announced that independent bookstores would need to shutter while large chains and superstores – many of which sell books – were allowed to remain open. 

Booksellers called it a gross injustice, and the government finally decided that supermarkets and general stores would need to block off nonessential items – not only books but toys, clothing, and games – starting Nov. 3. 

Garden stores “tap into the psyche of the British public,” says Peter Hulatt, managing director of Camden Garden Centre in London. “When the economy is difficult, everyone goes into nest building mode. … It’s about making where you live a better place to be. In lockdown, that’s magnified 10 times.”

A similar phenomenon in Wales saw supermarkets taping off nonessential items during a brief two-week “firebreak” or “circuit breaker” lockdown, ending Nov. 9. “It’s a straightforward matter of fairness,” said First Minister Mark Drakeford at the end of October. “We are in this together in Wales.” 

But such attempts to appease small business owners have felt like small favors for many, who say that the decision to close their shops feels arbitrary and contradictory, given all they’ve learned about social distancing and hygiene after the first lockdown.

“People can congregate in large stores without anyone monitoring them, whereas we could easily allow just one or two customers inside at a time,” says Christine Durietz, the manager of Le Dragon Savant, a children’s books and toy store in the east of Paris. “In the end it’s the responsibility of each individual. But I do feel like we’ve been unfairly reprimanded.” 

That is the general feeling among garden store owners in England, who were placed on the list of nonessential businesses during the country’s spring lockdown. When hardware stores – selling gardening products alongside building materials – were allowed to remain open, it caused “great unease in the garden industry,” says Peter Hulatt, Camden Garden Centre’s managing director in London. 

Most garden store shopping takes place outdoors, making it safer and easier to implement social distancing between customers. And, like bookstores in France, nurseries are considered sacred to British life; gardening, a British obsession. 

The home garden tradition stretches back to the 1700s and has only strengthened during the pandemic. Sales of houseplants have soared among apartment-dwellers, and garden stores have been a lifeline for those seeking community, acting as “a place of solace and meeting,” says Camden Garden Centre employee Lawrence Tynan. 

The gardening industry was finally able to convince the government to add its stores to the “essential” list in the country’s second lockdown, beginning Nov. 5 and ending Dec. 2. Garden stores “tap into the psyche of the British public,” says Mr. Hulatt. “When the economy is difficult, everyone goes into nest-building mode. … It’s about making where you live a better place to be. In lockdown, that’s magnified 10 times.” 

An eye on the holidays

While the U.K. recorded a COVID-19 death total on Tuesday that was the highest since early May, the new case rate has been falling. All nonessential businesses in the U.K., including gyms and personal care services, will be allowed to open next week, in the run-up to Christmas.   

And on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the worst of the second wave was over, and announced that nonessential businesses could reopen Nov. 28 under strict health protocols. But independent shop owners haven’t waited for news about the end of restrictions to jump-start sales. 

A growing number on both sides of the channel have joined the Click and Collect system, where consumers can purchase items online and pick them up at the store. It’s an alternative to online platforms like Amazon, which Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has said will be “the death of our bookstores and neighborhood life.” In mid-November, Amazon had agreed to push back Black Friday sales to Dec. 4, in the expectation that nonessential businesses would be allowed to open by then. 

But Click and Collect isn’t a cure-all to the concerns of independent shop owners. According to the CPME, a union that represents France’s small and medium-sized businesses, only 15% of very small businesses are selling their products through online platforms, even if 82% of French people buy online.

And some French businesses are already abandoning Click and Collect, as the costs of employing more staff to accommodate the demand for online orders has caused more losses than gains.

“We’ll reach 20% of our average monthly sales in November,” says Ms. Durietz of Le Dragon Savant, “if we’re lucky.” 

Even as France lifts restrictions on nonessential items, some customers may have already changed their shopping habits. 

“If it takes two days to receive a book we’ve ordered online, or if all the local stores are closed and we have to drive 40 minutes to get to the superstore, we’ll buy everything we need [there], including books,” says Mr. Dutilleul of the SNE. “People will get in the habit, and in the future will start shopping this way.” 

Small business owners across Europe are banking on consumers’ love for tradition to carry them through this rough patch. In France, booksellers will rely on the continued desire for real books, in a country where e-book user penetration is only expected to reach 8.6% in 2020.

“Even if we can’t say that all French people are interested in culture, there is certainly a great literary tradition in France and a love for real books,” says Bruno Péquignot, a sociology professor emeritus who studies culture at the University of Paris Sorbonne Nouvelle. “People will never put books in the trash can; always next to it, in case someone wants to take them. It’s a form of respect.”

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Golf news, Aussie responds to picture

Greg Norman has gone underground since his X-rated Instagram photo went viral last week, but word has leaked out about his feelings towards the world’s fascination with his junk.

The 65-year-old’s Instagram post of himself walking alongside his dog on Jupiter Island in Florida last week whipped the world into a fit of giggling and blushing — but the man at the centre of the enormous storm is keeping his cool.

A report revealed over the weekend how Norman really feels about having his club make headlines around the world.

The Sunday Telegraph first revealed Norman’s one-word response to the ongoing interest after the golfing legend declined to comment on the situation.

The report, citing a “close friend” of Norman’s, claims Norman is aware of the interest and has found the storm “amusing”.

Norman’s beach walk has earned him more than 10,000 extra Instagram followers in the past week.

Having worked tirelessly to keep his body in fierce condition in recent years, few could blame Norman for sitting back and enjoying the show.

The much-talked-about shot has even made a bigger splash than Norman’s nude magazine shots in 2018.

Norman said after posing nude for ESPN The Magazine’s The Body issue, he is very comfortable with his body.

“I work out a minimum of five days a week, sometimes six days. I always take at least one day off,” Norman said.

RELATED: Instagram star hits out after Norman backlash

“I have a full gym at my house. I built it. It’s got a cardio room, a full weight room, free weights, all that stuff.

“It’s not a big deal to me, right? At the end of the day, I do enjoy keeping fit at my age. I don’t have any ego about me, but I do love having a fit life.”

The Australian won two majors during his stellar golf career, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001. He spent 333 weeks as the world’s No. 1 in the 1980s.

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Scott Morrison should ‘slap himself’ for demanding apology over image

The editor of China’s state-run English language newspaper, Hu Xijin, has posted an incendiary piece calling Prime Minister Scott Morrison “ridiculously arrogant” and saying he should “slap himself in the face” on live television.

The searing editorial comes after Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian posted a doctored image on Twitter showing an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of a young child holding a lamb.

“Don’t be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace,” the caption reads.

The image references the Brereton report that alleged elite Australian soldiers had carried out war crimes including the killings of 39 Afghans in a series of incidents that are being referred for special investigation and potential prosecution.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacted swiftly and unequivocally to the image being shared on social media, calling it “truly repugnant”, calling for an apology from the Chinese government and asking the social media giant to take it down.

“It is deeply offensive to every Australian, every Australian who has served in that uniform, every Australian who serves in that uniform today, everyone who has pulled on that uniform and served with Australians overseas from whatever nation, that they have done that. It is utterly outrageous and it cannot be justified on any basis whatsoever,” he said in a virtual press conference on Monday.

“The Chinese Government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes.”

RELATED: Shocking Australian war crimes report revealed

RELATED: PM demands apology over fake image

But Global Times editor Hu Xijin has hit back, saying Australia is a country at the “urban-rural fringe’ of Western civilisation where gangsters roamed.”

He accused the country of becoming a “Western hatchet man” and said he was “really shocked and disgusted” to see Mr Morrison’s reaction.

“How could this Australian PM be so ridiculously arrogant to pick on Chinese FM spokesperson’s condemnation against the murder of innocent people? Is the murder fake news? Shouldn’t that illustrator have made the cartoon? Didn’t the Chinese FM spokesman have the right to repost that cartoon to censure Australian troops’ murder of innocent Afghan civilians?

“Morrison should kneel down on the ground, slap himself in the face, and kowtow to apologise to Afghans – all these should be done in a live telecast. No matter what harsh words people use on them for the murder, the Australian government should have accepted it. How dare they talk back and say they are offended!” the article said.

He also accused the Morrison government of being “akin to a mafia” and said people should be sent to temples to “heal their evil minds and murderous mentality.”

“More precisely, they should run as far as they can. The Morrison administration is making Australia provocative and wanting a spanking.”

It echoes other Chinese officials who have doubled down on the criticism, with fellow Foreign Minister spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying on Monday, Australian anger was misdirected.

“The Australian side has reacted so strongly to my colleague’s Twitter, does that mean that they think the cold blood murder of Afghan innocent civilians is justified while other people’s condemnation of such crimes are not justified?” she said.

“Afghan lives matter. The Australian government should bring the culprits to justice and offer an official apology to the Afghan people and make the solemn pledge that they will never repeat such crimes.

“They said that the Chinese government should feel ashamed. It is Australian soldiers who committed such cruel crimes. Shouldn’t the Australian government feel ashamed? Shouldn’t they feel ashamed for their soldiers killing innocent Afghan civilians?”

The furore marks a new low point in Australian-Chinese relations that have significantly deteriorated in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australia provoked Chinese ire by calling for an independent investigation into the source of the virus, leading to a series of trade measures carried out by China against beef, barley and wine.

Just last week the country slapped anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wine, a move that Trade Minister Simon Birmingham blasted as “grossly unfair, unwarranted, unjustified.”

He said the government would raise the issue with the World Trade Organisation.

Earlier this month Chinese officials gave a dossier to Australian media outlining 14 grievances, saying “if you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said Australia won’t compromise on foreign investment laws designed to protect national securiting such as control of the 5G network.

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David Warner, Pat Cummins to miss the four remaining limited overs internationals against India

David Warner will miss the rest of the ODI and T20 international series against India as he recovers from a groin injury which threatens his involvement in this summer’s Test series.

Western Australia’s D’Arcy Short has been brought into the side to replace Warner, who left the field at the SCG after injuring his groin while fielding in Australia’s 51-run win over India last night.

Warner will miss the third and final ODI in Canberra on Wednesday and will not play in the three-match T20 international series that follows.

Cricket Australia released a statement on Monday confirming the decision, and adding the news that paceman Pat Cummins would also be rested ahead of the Test series, which begins in Adelaide on December 17.

Cummins will not have a direct replacement in the squad.

“Pat [Cummins] and Davie [Warner] are critical to our plans for the Test series,” Australian coach Justin Langer said in the statement.

“Davie will work through his injury rehab and in Pat’s case it is important all of our players are managed well to keep them mentally and physically fit throughout what is a challenging summer.

“The priority for both is being fully prepared for one of the biggest and most important home Test series we have played in recent years, especially with World Test Championship points up for grabs.”


Short, who was the leading scorer in the Big Bash with the Hobart Hurricanes in 2017/18 and 2018/19, will replace Warner as another left-handed opener.

There was no mention in the statement of the results of the scans taken on Sunday night after Warner went to hospital following the incident in the fourth over of the Indian innings.

Warner ran to mid-off to try to stop a single from Shikhar Dhawan, going to the ground and then grimacing in pain.

He was helped from the ground and did not return to the game — India finished on 9-338 off their 50 overs, chasing 390 for victory.

Australia clinched the series 2-0 with one game to come.

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The Yiros Shop – Good Food Gold Coast

The Yiros Shop has come to town, bringing us the flavours of Greece, and we couldn’t be happier.

Besides gorgeous landscapes, amiable people and lots of history, one of the beauties of visiting Greece is that you know there’s always a great feed around the corner.

Greeks know how to prepare food. It’s fresh, full of goodness and it always tastes great. To Greeks, food is about bringing people together. No matter how humble, somehow a Greek meal always seems like an occasion.

That’s just what we find when we visit The Yiros Shop. Begun six years ago with their first shop in James St, Fortitude Valley, James St Burleigh is the eighth shop belonging to the Mitrossilis family, the other seven in Brisbane.

It has been a speedy five-week turnaround since The Coffee Club closed and The Yiros Shop opened, yet this prime corner location in Burleigh is hardly recognisable. It’s as if the beach has moved a little closer, reflected in the venue’s new blue and white hues. Fresh and approachable, two sides of the restaurant are open to catch the sea breezes and view, some people-watching also on the cards.

We’re greeted by Nick (who owns the restaurant with his father James) and Nick’s fiancée Maddie, who’s running front of house. Nick tells us a little about his grandparents who moved to Australia in the 1960s. He’s come out of the kitchen to meet us, saying that he’s pumped with the amazing response from Gold Coast customers eager for a taste of Greece.

Despite the ‘franchise’ denotation, it’s actually an asset, the team’s professional approach showing on every front. Service is swift, the food is fresh and (breathe a sigh of relief) even the tomatoes in our Greek salad are sparklingly crisp. (There’s nothing worse than a sloppy tomato in a salad or salsa.)

We can taste the quality: no fatty aftertaste on the lamb shoulder and the beef yiros is Wagyu. Who could ask for more!

Focussed on quality, “It’s about sticking to core values and staying on task,” Nick tells us, adding that his personal favourite is lamb yiros with feta, reflecting special occasions when his family does lamb on the spit at home.

Yiros, of course, is the main food item, and the centrepiece of the menu, available in three sizes ranging from $8 – $19.80. Wrapped in a fluffy fresh pita bread (with low-carb and GF pita options), you choose your own filling of 12-hour marinated meat (fish, beef, pork, chicken or lamb shoulder), haloumi or vegetarian. (Vegan options are on the way.) With tzatziki, tomato, onion and hot chips loaded in as well, it’s a ready-made ‘meal in a blanket’, the most popular street food in Greece. Only difference is that at The Yiros Shop it’s true Greek flavours from the marinades and sauces all made in house mixed in with top Aussie produce – the best of both worlds. Winner, winner!

Other menu options gather around the Yiros. A ‘Snack Box’ lets you load your choice of meat onto a box of crispy chips, ‘Plates’ (think deconstructed yiros) are arranged on a platter, and our ‘Build a Salad’ bowl is a delicious meal in itself. ‘Sides’ and ‘Desserts’ round out the menu, with Haloumi Chips an item not to be missed. (Ignore me at your peril!)

What’s on our plate is perfect beachside fare. With barista coffee from 6am – 4pm, breakfast on the way and takeaway as strong as dining in, The Yiros Shop has a strong foundation. We may not be gazing across whitewashed walls to the aquamarine waters of Santorini, but yiros are just as much at home after a day on Burleigh Beach looking out over a green park to our blue waters beyond as they are in Greece.

The Yiros Shop, 5/27 Connor St, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5655 4501

Open: Sun – Thurs 6am – 9pm; Fri – Sat 6am – 10pm

NOTE: Check out The Yiros Shop’s daily deals. Download The Yiros Shop’s app for delivery or Skip the Queue pickup.

Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of The Yiros Shop.

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‘Peace Will Not Prevail’ Without Proper Negotiations Between US and Iran, Professor Explains

In May 2018 the administration of US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed devastating Obama era sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, despite the International Atomic Energy Agency certifying that Iran was in full compliance with the JCPoA in 12 consecutive reports.

Iran continues to suffer the devastating consequences of crushing US sanctions, which were imposed in violation of the internationally-agreed-upon Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), as well as the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). If Joe Biden assumes the US presidency in January 2021, as it increasingly looks like he will, there may be expectations of a return to the policies of former US President Barack Obama. Tensions, however, have risen greatly following the assassination of Iran’s top civilian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in what many observers consider an attempt to undermine the next administration’s ability to negotiate for peace.

Muhammad Sahimi is a professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and an analyst of Iran’s political developments and their relations within the rest of the Middle East. Professor Sahimi explains that despite a great level of resistance from various lobbies and governments around the world, there is a real possibility for an end to the sanctions against Iran, if there is a change of government and change of policy in the United States.

Sputnik: Describe the state of affairs in Iran vis-a-vis the nuclear deal and the consequences of US sanctions that have been re-imposed by the Trump administration.

Professor Muhammad Sahimi: Iran’s economy is under the worst possible conditions. Although mismanagement and deep corruption have contributed significantly to the state of the economy, it is the illegal and unilateral sanctions by the United States, as well as the secondary sanctions that the US threatens to impose on any entity doing business with Iran, that has contributed mightily to the current state. The rial, Iran’s official currency, has lost much of its value; inflation is 40-50 percent; the price of everything has gone up greatly, and unemployment is high. At the same time, COVID-19 has also hurt Iran, like almost all other nations, and even under such worldwide pandemic, the US has not been willing to relax at least some of its sanctions. 

Sputnik: Who are the main actors, domestic and international, that oppose a restoration of the Iran nuclear deal?

Professor Muhammad Sahimi: Domestically, hardliners are opposed to unconditional restoration of the JCPoA. They demand compensation for the damage that Trump’s sanctions have inflicted on Iran, and they also say, with some credibility, that the US cannot be trusted. Even if there is to be some negotiation, the hardliners want to lead it themselves, which means by the end of 2021, at the earliest, after the Rouhani administration leaves office.

Internationally [those that oppose restoring the JCPoA are], Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel in that region, together with the Israeli and Saudi lobbies in the United States, the neocons, and the evangelical Christians, that are ardent supporters of Israel and represent a strong force within the Republican Party, are opposed to it.

Sputnik: Why do they oppose a nuclear deal between the US and Iran?

Professor Muhammad Sahimi: Internationally, those who oppose the JCPoA are the same as those who want war with Iran, and the toppling of its regime. They have the illusion that the Islamic Republic can be toppled without starting a war that would engulf the entire region. These nations and US factions want, at the very least, to continue the “maximum pressure policy” [implemented by Donald Trump’s administration] and complete sanctions against the Iranian people, with the hope that they will rise up and topple the regime, which is another fantasy.

Sputnik: What is currently being done to prevent a future Joe Biden presidency from re-establishing a nuclear deal with Iran and removing the sanctions that have been slapped onto its economy?

Professor Muhammad Sahimi: For nearly three years, and particularly the last several months, the Trump administration has been imposing new sanctions on Iran practically every week, to the point that it has crossed into bizarro-world. The latest sanctions are supposedly in retaliation for Iran’s support of terrorism. The goal is to increase the political cost of suspending or cancelling such sanctions, because if the incoming Biden administration tries to do so, it will have to respond to accusations of “supporting a terrorist state”. There have also been speculations that Trump and/or Israel might attack Iran, which would lead to a large war that Israel and Saudi Arabia have always craved, hence gutting the door on any type of diplomacy with Iran. 

Sputnik: How likely are these attempts to succeed in preventing a future government from inking a renewed nuclear deal with Iran?

Professor Muhammad Sahimi: It all depends on how determined is President-elect Biden and his team to restore the JCPoA and pursue diplomacy with Iran. If they really want to restore the JCPoA, which would open the doors to further diplomacy, they would resist the domestic pressure, and [pressure] by Israel, UAE and Saudi Arabia and move forward. It appears that Mr. Biden really wants to restore the JCPoA, but we would have to wait and see.

Sputnik: Does the current makeup of the US Congress even allow the possibility that a Joe Biden presidency could get a new deal through, given that the Senate appears to be evenly split between the two parties?

Professor Muhammad Sahimi: Yes, that is a significant impediment. But, if control of the Senate changes hands after the runoff elections in Georgia and is transferred to the Democrats, then there will be possibilities.

Sputnik: Trita Parsi, co-founder of the American Iranian Council and the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, recently suggested that the current attempts to lock future Biden government into the current status quo “may force him to go bigger than just restoring the agreement”. Do you agree? 

Professor Muhammad Sahimi: I agree with Dr. Parsi. If Biden restores the JCPoA and begins negotiations with Iran over other issues, then he can present them as a comprehensive solution to some of the most complex problems in the Middle East. In my opinion, the American people are tired of endless wars, and their economic and human costs, particularly in the Middle East. But, peace will not prevail in that region without negotiations between the US and Iran, and resolving at least some of the major issues between the two nations. Under such circumstances, President Biden will be able to present this to the American people.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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Time for cuts and adjustments won’t come until 2022, says Finnish finance minister

THE FINNISH ECONOMY has been left relatively unscathed by the global crisis set off by the coronavirus pandemic, views Etla Economic Research.

Etla reported last week that industrial output in the country decreased by 5.6 per cent year-on-year between January and September, substantially less than the average of nearly 10 per cent recorded elsewhere in Europe.

The tourism and restaurant industry has been the worst-hit industry also in Finland, with value added about to fall by 30 per cent from the previous year.

“The official restrictions, as well as the choices of consumers, targetting tourism and restaurant services have led to a completely unusual situation in the whole industry. The industry will recover partly next year if the pandemic remains under control, but a full recovery will take more time,” commented Birgitta Berg-Andersson of Etla.

Minister of Finance Matti Vanhanen (Centre) told YLE on Sunday that the relatively small overall impact on the national economy is a consequence of the successful effort by the government and local authorities to control the epidemic.

“Taking care of the epidemic also provides the best economic result. That’s what we’ve proved here,” he said.

Although the ongoing second wave of infections will inevitably also have an impact on the economy, Vanhanen is confident that the outlook will brighten as soon as next year. Statistics Finland, for example, has stated that the gross domestic product could grow by around three per cent from this year.

The Finnish government has issued its seventh and final supplementary budget of the year, deciding to extend the second cost support scheme adopted to enable businesses to withstand the crisis.

“We introduced an option to the winter framework in advance so that, if we need a third round of cost support for companies, if companies report losses of that magnitude at both before and after the turn of the year, we’ll have a 500-million-euro appropriation for that. That hasn’t been activated yet,” Vanhanen stated to YLE.

He added that the objective of the supplementary budget is also to anticipate for needs that emerge in the winter by securing the resources health care providers and municipalities need because of the crisis.

The time for fiscal adjustments or cost cuts will not come until 2022, according to Vanhanen. Both Finland and Europe will continue to stimulate their economies to make sure they can resume growth following the introduction of a vaccine against the virus.

The stimulus efforts, he underlined, must be credible.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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GM of Football to step down at Collingwood

Geoff Walsh, Collingwood’s GM of football, will step away from the game next month.

2020 will be the veteran administrator’s last with the Magpies after he announced his retirement from the position.

“I have been contemplating this for some time and as one of my old coaches once put it, the moment you start thinking about retirement is the time to finish,” the 64-year-old told collingwoodfc.com.au.

“I am ready and the time for Collingwood is also right. I will thank personally the many people I need to but I would like to acknowledge the game for the rich experiences, friendships and professional rewards I have been lucky enough to enjoy.

“It was a privilege to serve the game.”

Club president Eddie McGuire said of Walsh: “Geoff has been one of the all-time great administrators and football people.

“He moved with and shaped the game as it evolved from a semi-professional, state-based sport into a professional and national competition. He knows and understands the game like few others do.

“He was with Collingwood for over a decade. We would have liked to have had him with us for another decade.”

Walsh has held various footy department positions with several clubs over the past 40 years, twice serving at Collingwood after his initial stint between 2006 and 2013 which yielded the 2010 premiership.

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