Sweden Backtracks on it’s Controversial and Lax COVID Measures

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Sweden Backtracks on it’s Controversial and Lax COVID Measures and Embraces bans as Pandemic progresses.

Sweden, the country, which had originally adopted a controversial, and many say lax, strategy based on individual responsibility and recommendations, has now changed its plans. The Government has decided to leave behind the much-criticised strategy of the recommendations and in recent weeks it has begun to announce bans on certain behaviours in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The first measure, which came into effect last Friday, consists of an absolute ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m., a restriction that will last until February. The second, applicable as of Tuesday, November 24, limits meetings in public spaces to a maximum of eight people and will last at least until Christmas, although the Interior Minister, Mikael Damberg, hasn’t ruled out that it will extend into 2021.

“The situation in our country is complicated and at the same time simple: we live in a time of trials. And [this] is going to get worse. Do your duty, assume your responsibility to stop the spread. Don’t go to the gym, or to the library, or to dinner, or to parties. Stay home,” said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, a Social Democrat, last week during a virtual press conference.

The Executive now hints that during the first wave, in spring, individual responsibility reigned. But now “there is less compliance,” regrets Löfven, who added that the population’s boredom was an “understandable” attitude given the long duration of the pandemic and the consequent recommendations to tackle it: teleworking, restriction of capacity in public places, limitations to visits in nursing homes, online, bars of bars and closed restaurants, etcetera.

Sweden’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic was out of step with much of the world. The government never ordered a “shutdown” and kept daycare centres and primary schools open. While cities worldwide turned into ghost towns, Swedes could be seen chatting in cafés and working out at the gym. The contrast evoked both admiration and alarm in other countries, with journalists and experts debating whether the strategy was brilliant—or whether Tegnell, its main architect, had lost the plot.


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Tony Winterburn

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