THE Swedish government currently has the least interventionist strategy in Europe based on their recommendations to citizens and disregard for quarantine. However, the increase of deaths in the country has caused the government to demand the necessary powers needed to take a turn and approve exceptional measures by decree.
Sweden is one of the only European countries which has not closed its bars, restaurants and hairdressers. Instead, it has embarked on the path of adopting a group immunity strategy which differentiates it from the drastic measures that other countries have taken.
This experiment has not come without risks as 591 people have already died as a result of the coronavirus since the beginning of the crisis. A government initiative in Parliament indicates that they are already beginning to prepare for Plan B.
Similarly, the UK briefly toyed with the idea of forming a herd immunity to the virus. Today the UK has 55,000 positive cases, over 3,500 deaths, and a prime minister in the ICU. Thankfully, Sweden and its 10 million inhabitants have not suffered as many shocks and seems to have the public’s support in their actions.
Norway has adopted a similar strategy to the rest of Europe with restrictive social measures, so far, their death toll has reached 88.
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Social Democrat Stefan Lofven, placed himself in the hands of the head of epidemiology at the Public Health Agency, Anders Tengell. Tengell has issued a base of recommendations to its citizens and limiting the use of prohibitions as much as possible, so that the country’s economic health is not overly punished as a result of the virus.
The congregation of more than 50 people is not allowed; however, primary schools remain open. Secondary schools and Universities conduct online lessons. Bars, restaurants, and gyms are still open to the public and terraces are full of people going for drinks. The government has recommended citizens work from home and therefore many offices remain empty.
In typical Swede fashion, the government has preferred to appeal to the responsibility of its citizens. For this reason, they have asked they respect social distancing measures in public and that they do not go travelling during the Easter holidays. The images of Stockholm’s city centre show that each person abides to these recommendations in their own way.
However, this is not to say that the Swedish government is sure if the plan will work, in these last days, there has been a worrying climb in the number of deaths. Tengell does not hide the fact that the country has now entered a new phase in the coronavirus epidemic: “Unfortunately, I think we have reached a new level. The curve has begun to spike a little, but overall I believe that it remains rather flat,” said the epidemiologist last Thursday.
These new circumstances have made the government announce that it will present new preventative measures in Parliament, a legislation project which will allow them to approve new emergency measures by decree. The opposition has said that they will give them their vote in order for them to pass this legislation. This way, they will close all bars and public businesses in an urgent banner and “act faster if necessary, with more measures,” said the vice-minister, Isabella Lovin. This could be the start of a new strategy and a more serious warning to the citizens who are not abiding to the recommendations issued by authorities.