Individuals dine in a restaurant on March 27, 2020 in Stockholm throughout the the brand new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Whereas the remainder of Europe imposes extreme restrictions on public life and closes borders and companies, Sweden is taking a extra relaxed method to the coronavirus outbreak.
In contrast to its fast neighbors Denmark, Finland and Norway (and nearly all of European nations) Sweden has not closed its borders or its faculties. Neither has it closed non-essential companies or banned gatherings of greater than two individuals, just like the U.Okay. and Germany.
Sweden’s response to the outbreak is being overseen largely by the nation’s Public Well being Company. It has taken a conspicuously totally different method to the coronavirus from its worldwide friends, trusting the general public to undertake voluntary, softer measures to delay the unfold of the virus.
This apparently laissez-faire method has attracted criticism each from inside Sweden, from a gaggle of epidemiologists, as properly from different international locations that are locking down public life to curb the outbreak.
The Public Well being Company’s lead epidemiologist, and a key determine in Sweden’s nationwide response to the coronavirus, is Anders Tegnell. He informed CNBC that though his nation’s technique to deal with the virus was totally different, the goal was the identical.
“My view is that mainly all European international locations are attempting to do the identical factor — we’re attempting to decelerate the unfold as a lot as attainable to maintain healthcare and society working … and we now have proven some totally different strategies to decelerate the unfold,” he informed CNBC Monday.
“Mainly we construct on social distancing, in a technique or one other,” he stated, including that the measures chosen by Sweden, and different international locations, have mirrored totally different cultural and authorized frameworks.
“Sweden has gone principally for voluntary measures as a result of that is how we’re used to working,” Tegnell stated. “And we now have a protracted custom that it really works reasonably properly.”
He added the company had defined to the inhabitants why social distancing was wanted, “and up to now, it has been working moderately properly.”
In distinction, Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak, has virtually 100,000 circumstances and over 10,000 deaths, the most recent information confirmed Sunday. In the meantime Spain, the second worst-hit nation in Europe, has near 80,000 confirmed circumstances and 6,500 deaths. The U.Okay., thought-about to be round two weeks behind Italy by way of the outbreak, has recorded virtually 20,000 circumstances and 1,228 deaths from the virus.
“The incline (in an infection and loss of life charges) in Sweden is much less steep than in lots of international locations and that is precisely what we’re attempting to attain,” Tegnell stated, including that opinion polls confirmed the Swedish public have been general in favor of the company’s method.
Tegnell did not rule out extra stringent measures in Sweden, nevertheless, telling CNBC that if there was a pointy enhance in circumstances, the federal government and Public Well being Company would have a “massive dialogue on what different measures we will take.”
This weekend, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven stated that isolating Stockholm might occur if the outbreak worsens, however that such measures usually are not at the moment being mentioned. He had beforehand insisted that efficiently combating the unfold of the virus was largely depending on particular person conduct.
Life carries on
Sweden has not fully diverged from the remainder of Europe. In an identical method to its neighbors, Sweden’s authorities has advocated working from dwelling if in any respect attainable, avoiding non-essential journey and the aged are suggested to keep away from social contact. After all, recommendation to clean palms often has additionally been promoted.
Eating places, bars, cafés and nightclubs have been informed to supply seated desk service solely. And as of Sunday, gatherings of greater than 50 persons are banned (the nation had initially suspended gatherings of greater than 500 individuals). It has additionally closed universities and schools, however faculties with college students beneath 16 years previous stay open.
As such, in comparison with elsewhere in Europe, life in Sweden feels eerily regular, Stockholm residents say.
“Being each an expat and an educator at a secondary faculty in Stockholm, I really feel conflicted,” Erik, a trainer in school in Stockholm, informed CNBC Sunday.
“I nonetheless want to enter work, on a crowded bus, to show my college students who’re suggested to maintain coming into faculty. We’re all arrange for distant studying, however secondary faculties usually are not closing any time quickly,” he stated.
He added that some colleagues have been dismissing considerations about coronavirus saying, “It is simply the flu, I am extra apprehensive concerning the begin of the pollen season,” and he additionally referred to the “nice belief” Swedes have of their public establishments.
Individuals stroll at Strandvagen in Stockholm on March 28, 2020, throughout the the brand new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. – Sweden, which has stayed open for enterprise with a softer method to curbing the COVID-19 unfold than most of Europe, on March 27, 2020 restricted gatherings to 50 individuals, down from 500.
Tom, an Englishman who works in building in Stockholm, stated he was impressed that the nation remained so calm.
“Apart from the plain social media influences, I believe if they’d have enforced harsher initiatives like different international locations there would have been extra panic,” he stated.
“Individuals have been good in accommodating small adjustments of their lives to assist cease the unfold, and have been very useful to one another … To be sincere, Sweden has behaved precisely as I’d have anticipated the Swedes to behave.”
Stockholm residents acknowledged that there was a decline in exercise within the metropolis, and but social life continues.
“On Friday night, once I went on my method dwelling, I noticed a great deal of teams of each younger and middle-aged individuals hanging out on one of many central squares in Stockholm. It amazed me,” Erik stated.
“Whether or not the Swedish technique relies on science, reluctance to restrict individuals’s freedom, or on belief that residents will do what is required, will not be clear to me, in any respect.”
Restrictions or not, Sweden’s economic system will not escape unscathed from the disaster. Final week, Swedbank forecast that the economic system would contract 4% in 2020.
“The downturn within the Swedish economic system is broader and quicker than throughout the monetary disaster. Unemployment will attain 10% already by summer time, regardless of unprecedented fiscal stimulus,” Swedbank said in its report released last Wednesday.
“Most sectors within the Swedish economic system are bleeding. Within the companies sector, a number of firms are fully with out demand, deserted as cautious households have gone dwelling. Manufacturing is battling damaged provide chains and falling demand.”
The Swedish authorities has stated that its goal is to restrict the unfold of an infection within the nation and the influence on crucial companies, and it has launched some measures to restrict the financial influence of the virus.
Final week, it introduced an assist package deal for small- and medium-sized enterprises, saying it is going to assure 70% of recent loans banks present to firms which can be experiencing monetary issue as a result of virus. It additionally briefly decreased social safety contributions and launched firm hire assist.