Five Stockholm restaurants closed over social distancing breaches

Five Stockholm restaurants closed over social distancing breaches
File photo of a Stockholm restaurant not linked to the closures. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
Stockholm health officials have ordered the closure of five bars and restaurants that they said had failed to respect social distancing guidelines.

The Scandinavian country has allowed schools for under-16s, cafés, bars, restaurants and businesses to stay open while urging people and businesses to respect social distancing guidelines.

Restaurants and bars are only allowed to provide table service, with tables spaced one to two metres apart to prevent overcrowding.

While data suggests most Swedes are voluntarily practising social distancing, photos have made the rounds worldwide in recent weeks of Stockholmers soaking up the spring sunshine sitting at crammed restaurant terraces, or queuing closely together outside nightclubs.

Authorities had warned last week they would be stepping up inspections to ensure establishments were respecting social distancing guidelines, but some bars and restaurants were again packed at the weekend.

Four of the five venues are located in the Södermalm neighbourhood.

”The main problem was overcrowding, both inside the premises and outdoors,” Stockholm health official Per Follin told news agency TT.

He said their closure was immediate and until further notice.

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Among other restrictions Sweden has imposed are bans on visits to retirement homes and on gatherings of more than 50 people.

It has also urged people to work from home if possible, and recommended people over the age of 70 and in risk groups to limit contacts with others.

The Swedish approach has received criticism both domestically and internationally as its death toll has leapt much higher than its Nordic neighbours, which have all instituted more restrictive containment measures.

As of Sunday, Sweden, which has 10.3 million inhabitants, reported 2,194 deaths linked to the coronavirus, compared to 422 in Denmark and 193 in Norway, whose populations are about half the size.

Swedish officials, and those backing their approach, have nonetheless insisted their plan is more sustainable in the long-term, rejecting drastic short-term measures as too ineffective to justify their impact on society.

Gothenburg and Malmö also carried out inspections of bars and restaurants over the weekend, and were set to present the results on Monday.

The restaurants and bars that were closed in Stockholm are, according to the DN newspaper:

Raw Sushi & Bowl

The International Bar

Restaurang Carmen

Central Bar

Charles Dickens


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