Thursday. 01.12.2022

Government and Helsinki mayor clash over epidemic management

For the mayor of Helsinki it is "clear" that the ministry headed by Krista Kiuru "does not want to discuss the epidemiological situation with the big cities."
The Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (L) and the mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori. Images: Government/Helsinki city.

The management of the coronavirus epidemic and the adoption of measures to stop the spread of the Covid-19 disease is generating some tensions among the Finnish authorities.

According to the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, the cooperation between the Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori (from the conservative National Coalition Party or Kokoomus), and the social democratic Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, Krista Kiuru, is far from adequate to the threat that society faces.

In that sense, on Wednesday the main newspaper of the country wrote that the Helsinki councilor refused to participate on Tuesday in an online meeting led by Kiuru, in which restrictions and recommendations to deal with the pandemic were supposed to be discussed.

Instead, on Tuesday Vapaavuori led a joint press conference of the mayors of the largest cities in the Helsinki-Uusimaa region (Vantaa and Espoo), in which they made public the next measures to be taken against the coronavirus in their area.

According to the newspaper, Vapaavuori's absence from the meeting called by the minister "was not well viewed."

The mayor of the capital city criticized the minister for hastily sending him the invitation late on Monday evening, just before 20:00. "I would expect that in a civilized country dialogue would take place differently than by sending invitations to meetings the night before," he complained.

Dialogue with big cities

On Wednesday morning, in an interview with the Finnish National Broadcasting Company (Yle), Vapaavuori also complained that it was "clear" to him that the department headed by Kiuru "does not want to discuss the epidemiological situation with the big cities." Instead, it prefers to deal with hospital districts.

In his opinion, big cities should be in a position to discuss directly with the Ministry.

It is not the first time that the government and the mayor of Helsinki publicly show their disagreement over the management of the coronavirus.

In September, Vapaavuori criticized the government's decision to limit the opening hours of bars and restaurants and in October he again complained about the lack of guidelines on the suspension of leisure and sports activities.

According to Helsingin Sanomat, Minister Kiuru did not want to comment on the complaints of Mayor Vapaavuori, who has already announced that he will not repeat as a candidate for mayor of Helsinki in the next spring elections.

Government and Helsinki mayor clash over epidemic management