Swedish liquor stores shuttered by PC update

A large number of Sweden's alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget stores have been kept closed on Thursday as a result of problems with an anti-virus update that is causing mayhem worldwide.

“We currently have 25 stores closed and 100 more with problems,” said Lennart Agén, a Systembolaget spokesperson, to news agency TT.

“We have been working with this all night and hope to be able to solve it within a couple of hours and be back at full speed tomorrow,” he continued.

Agén was unwilling to give any indication as to the problems suffered by the monopoly retailer.

“We don’t look at it like that, the most important thing is to able to provide service to our customers,” he said.

The problem has been caused by a fault in an anti-virus system made by US software firm McAfee.

“The antivirus programme was sent to our stores overnight. The fault has affected a great number of firms worldwide and Systembolaget is one of these,” the firm writes on its homepage.

As long as the problems persist Systembolaget will not be allowed to open its stores.

The problems reportedly stem from a faulty update which has reacted against an important systems file in the Windows XP operating system.

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Swedes warned: Vodka won’t protect you from the coronavirus

Sweden's state-run alcohol chain Systembolaget has advised customers not to buy its spirits as a substitute for hand sanitiser.

Swedes warned: Vodka won't protect you from the coronavirus
Stockholmers queuing outside Systembolaget before Easter. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

One of the best ways of avoiding the new coronavirus and prevent its spread is to wash your hands often with soap and water, according to the Swedish Public Healh Agency.

If you don't have access to soap or running water, hand sanitiser is the next best option, but the product has been flying off the shelves as shoppers try to get their hands on a bottle.

Sweden's state-owned alcohol chain Systembolaget has been forced to put up signs in several of its stores informing customers that alcohol such as vodka and gin does not work as a substitute for hand sanitiser.

“NOT HAND SANITISER,” read the signs.

“We have had a few questions from customers and have put up signs in those stores,” said Systembolaget press officer Therese Elmgren.

“But it is not possible, just as the signs say. The percentage (of alcohol) needs to be higher.”

An alcohol concentration of at least 60 percent is needed for disinfectant to be effective in killing viruses or bacteria. Absolut Vodka, to use an example of a popular Swedish vodka brand, has an alcohol concentration of 40 percent.

However, some of the ingredients are the same, and during the coronavirus crisis Absolut has adapted parts of its manufacturing in order to produce pure alcohol which can be used for cleaning purposes, instead of vodka for consumption. This pure alcohol then needs to be mixed with gel, manufactured separately, to create usable sanitiser for the healthcare sector.