Man killed during Midsummer knife fight

A man was stabbed to death during a fight near Borgholm on Öland, an island off the east coast of Sweden and a popular spot for Midsummer celebrations. But in many parts of the country, poor weather put a damper on the Midsummer festivities.

Man killed during Midsummer knife fight

One person was stabbed to death during a fight north of Borgholm, and several other people sustained less severe knife wounds. Police were called shortly after midnight on Midsummer Day but do not want to release further details.

“To say the least, this is a mess. A lot of youth were on Öland to celebrate Midsummer and this was a fight between rival gangs. Knives were involved, one person died and several are injured. Their relatives have not yet been informed,” Alf Jacobsson of the Kalmar police told TT.

The celebrations in Gothenburg were characterized by fights and drunkenness, but there were no major incidents.

“It was like a more troublesome Saturday. But now it’s pouring rain and that is a good preventative measure when it comes to criminal activity,” said Thomas Gorner of the Gothenburg police.

In Skåne in southern Sweden, midsummer celebrations remained calm until around 1 am.

“Then it was like …all hell broke loose. There have been a lot of incidents. There has been drunkenness, fights, assault, but not at a bar, but rather at a camp sites and private parties,” said Anders Nilsson, commander on duty in Skåne and Blekinge.

No major injuries were reported, however, and no particular location has stood out, he added.

Other parts of Sweden reported that things were business as usual.

“Like a normal Midsummer. Things have been relatively calm in Luleå all year, and also now. Things have been more problematic in the northern part of the municipality, in particular in Pajala where a festival is going on,” said Catrin Hedqvist of the Norrbotten police in northern Sweden.

In Dalarna in central Sweden, things were calmer than usual, partially due to the weather.

“But in Leksand, where we normally have trouble, things were calm and we have had a lot of officers out,” said Kent Link of the Dalarna police.

In Stockholm, it was like a regular weekend and many were thought to have gone out of town.

“Of course we’ve had a lot to do, but I had expected much worse. The city centre has been the most calm,” said Jens Mårtensson of the Stockholm police.

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How are Sweden’s tourist spots coping with the risk of coronavirus outbreaks this summer?

The Public Health Agency has warned that rural areas popular with tourists are particularly vulnerable to a second wave of the coronavirus this summer.

How are Sweden's tourist spots coping with the risk of coronavirus outbreaks this summer?
A beach on Öland, a popular tourist spot that also has Sweden's highest proportion of elderly residents. Photo: Mikael Fritzon / TT

“At the end of the summer, we may get an increased strain on the healthcare sector if distance isn't kept and the restrictions aren't respected,” said the Public Health Agency's general director Johan Carlson at a press conference in early July.

He warned that it was especially important for young people to continue following the restrictions.

“It's unreasonable to think you can live as normal if you aren't in a risk groups while others have to keep distance,” he said.

While the larger cities in Sweden tend to empty out during the warmer months, there is concern about how infection may spread in popular tourist spots.

“We know that the most common tourist areas aren't very densely populated normally, so there is a big percentage increase in the population, for example on Gotland and Öland,” said Thomas Lindén, a department head at the National Board of Health and Welfare.

So how are these areas coping so far?

“At the moment there is available [hospital] capacity in all tourist areas, but there is significant worry,” Lindén said.

In the Kalmar region, including the island of Öland which was singled out in this week's press conference following reports of crowding, local authorities say that so far, there have not been major problems.

“We have few Covid-19 inpatients, less than a handful,” said the region's healthcare director Johan Rosenqvist. “Otherwise, it's like any summer, we are used to a lot of people coming here. The difference is that we must have resources to devote to Covid-19 patients.”

He said that it would however be a problem if there was a local outbreak before the end of summer, with many medical staff still on holiday. In that case, Rosenqvist said it might be necessary to call them back to work. 

Photo: Jessica Gow / TT

Agneta Ahlberg, head of operations the campsites in Borgholm on Öland, said tourism in the area was very different this year. 

“When the decision came [in mid-June] that people could travel more than two hours away, there were lots of bookings. It made a very big difference,” she said. 

“There are always some [who ignore rules] but the vast majority are responsible, and we try to be around and remind them too. Everyone knows what applies,” said her colleague Hans Gerremo. “I was down at the campsite earlier talking with guests, they feel good and can see that we care. We've arranged extra cleaning too.”

“I don't think we've seen the crowding that's being talked about. People naturally keep a distance from each other,” he said.

One family of seven had made the two and a half hour journey from their hometown to stay at the campsite, and said they were comfortable at Borgholm.

“We had views from the beginning about the fact there were so many people here on Öland, we said they were completely stupid, but then we came here ourselves,” Stefan and Lotta Ekenmo told TT.

“You have your own accommodation with a caravan, and then you follow the recommendations. It would be different if you stayed at a hotel or in cottages where other people have stayed. Here, it's just us.”