While Europe and most of the world is firmly locked down in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Sweden is carrying on pretty much as normal
At the time of writing, children are still going to primary schools, shops, restaurants and bars are also staying open across the country as parks and recreational areas are full of people enjoying the spring sunshine.
The Swedish government’s medical experts were standing by their decision not to follow almost all other EU nations by instituting economic and social lockdowns.
The Mail Online reports: This stands in stark contrast to the urgent tone elsewhere and has sparked heated debate whether Sweden is really doing the right thing.
The country has reported more than 2,299 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 41 deaths.
‘We cannot allow the human desperation in Wuhan and Bergamo to be repeated in Sweden. That would be a gamble that violates society’s most fundamental principle: that every person has an inherent value,’ the editor-in-chief of Sweden’s biggest newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, wrote on Sunday, calling for either tougher measures or more widespread coronavirus testing.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, in a televised speech on Sunday, urged people to ‘take responsibility’ and follow the government’s recommendations.
Those include working from home if you can, staying home if you feel sick, practice social distancing, and stay home if you belong to a risk group or are over the age of 70.
Gatherings of more than 500 people have been banned – compared to more than two people in Britain and Germany – and the government has advised secondary schools and universities to close their facilities and conduct classes online.
Cases of people infected with coronavirus in the UK stands at 8,078 with 422 dead.
In Spain, there are 47,610 people infected and some 3,434 dead.
Whereas in Germany there are 33,954 people infected and 171 dead.
On Tuesday, the Swedish government announced that restaurants and bars would only be allowed to provide table service to avoid crowding, but stopped short of actually closing them.
Health authorities also urged people to reconsider trips to visit relatives over Easter.
But for many, life is carrying on close to normal.
Bars and restaurants were full at the weekend, and Stockholm’s city buses have been jam-packed at rush hour despite the social distancing recommendations.
In contrast, neighbouring Norway two weeks ago rolled out the ‘most intrusive measures’ seen in peacetime, including banning sports and cultural events, and shutting down schools and businesses.
Sweden’s parliament has so far simply fast-tracked a bill allowing for the closure of primary and pre-schools – if deemed necessary.
However, in line with the rest with the rest of the European Union, Sweden has shut its borders to non-necessary travel.
Grilled by media about their apparently relaxed response to the pandemic, Swedish politicians respond that the government will take its cue from experts at the country’s Public Health Agency.
The agency has yet to call for stricter measures, arguing that the elderly should stay home, not children.