Click to view the gallery. Photographs: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

At the top of the stairs rising high above the Senate Square in front of the Helsinki Cathedral, she observed the hundreds of people scattered across the square below and clapped her hands.

“Great speeches!” she exclaimed, “When the politicians are not speaking.”

The woman who wished to stay anonymous added that it feels like the decision-makers have “wiped their ass on people working in the culture sector.”

Indeed, just after the government announced that all restrictions on the events and culture sector will be lifted in mid-February, about 500 people from CEOs to directors, and from actors to musicians, gathered at the Senate Square on the crispy Thursday afternoon to hold speeches, on a mission to remind the government that this was the final lockdown, the final call for any restrictions hammered upon culture, sports and events.

“The doors must remain open!” a speaker from the stage screamed in a distorted voice.

The Finnish pop star Anssi Kela, who was one of the performers, reminded the listeners that the restrictions laid upon the culture sector affect everyone in the chain from the roadie to the taxi driver who takes a patron to the concert; no concert, no drive, no money.

The widespread opinion of the protesters in place seemed to be that when restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus are decided, the culture and events sector is the first to take a hit.

This is a widespread phenomenon around the world based on the fact that the virus spreads rapidly indoors, especially in poorly ventilated places.

In Finland, however, many cinemas, for example, employ top-of-the-line air-conditioning. It’s the same in some concert venues.

And then there’s always the FFP2 mask. . . .

One of the organizers told that Minister of Science and Culture Antti Kurvinen (the Centre) was “praying” to get on the stage to say a few words.

“We didn’t let him do that. The ministers have been performing for the past two years,” he said.

“Now it’s our turn.”


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