As the rest of Europe lives under lockdown, Sweden keeps calm and carries on All its neighbours have shut up shop to beat coronavirus but the Swedes insist ‘we are not in quarantine’. Is that the right approach?
If there’s been a fall in custom at the Nyhavn restaurant, it’s hardly noticeable. Groups of drinkers huddle under heat lamps out on Möllevång Square, the centre of nightlife in the Swedish city of Malmö, seemingly oblivious to the virus spreading through Europe.
“It’s the Swedish trust in government,” says Linus Bohman, 28. “No one told me you have to stay home right now,” agrees his friend, Fredrik Glückman, a history student at Lund University. “We’re not in quarantine. And as soon as we hear from our government that we have to stay in, like you do in Britain, then we will do it.”
“But not,” Bohman adds, “if Boris Johnson says it.”
The death toll in Sweden is now 239. Almost 5,000 cases of the virus have been detected so far, and almost 400 people are in or have been in intensive care for COVID-19.
The new guidelines are:
- Avoid travelling on public transport during rush hours.
- Avoid gathering in places with lots of people.
- Shops must restrict the number of people they allow in, and either stop queues forming, or make sure people make space in the queues.
- The companies that run public transport must not cut the number of services to save money. They must also limit the number of people in each bus or train.
- Sports organisations have been told to cancel all upcoming matches and tournaments.