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Record crowds on southern Swedish beaches despite coronavirus warnings

Temperatures of 30 degrees and up have caused southern Swedish sun worshipers to flock in record numbers to beaches and bathing areas.

Record crowds on southern Swedish beaches despite coronavirus warnings
Långholmsbadet, Stockholm in Saturday's 30-degree August heat. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT

The police can do nothing about the congestion as long as no crimes are committed, as the Public Order Act which bans public gatherings of more than 50 people does not cover beaches and bathing areas. 

In Tylösand outside Halmstad, as many as 40,000 beach visitors gathered on Saturday.

At Kämpingestranden in Höllviken in Skåne, there has been a record number of visitors with over 10,000 guests, reports Kvällsposten. 

“It is an uncontrollable chaos. It is completely full”, says Pontus Carlsson, head of security at Falsterbonäset's lifeguard, to the newspaper.

According to Carlsson, it is impossible to get down to the beach due to the congestion. For security reasons, he does not let his staff walk around among the guests. 

“Where I stand now I do not see sand, I only see people.”

He and the staff have been forced to turn away cars that intended to park incorrectly. 

“It gets quite an angry atmosphere quite quickly, when everyone just goes to the beaches in a completely panicked way.”

The police in the South region have not responded to any cases in beach and bathing areas on Sunday.

“Ensuring that people keep their distance during corona times is not a police task.  In general, some land is privately owned and some is municipally owned, but no land belongs to the police.

“Our mission is order and safety – we come when people start threatening and fighting or when there is an accident,” police spokesman Ewa-Gun Westford told TT.

“I know that Simrishamn municipality and the road association produced a temporary emergency solution yesterday in Knäbäck outside Rörum beach. They put up signs that said ‘full – please choose another beach’.

Westford says that throughout her life in Österlen she has never experienced such crowds. 

“I'm out walking my dog ​​in Ystad now, and it's completely insane. There are an incredible number of people.”

The ban on gathering more than 50 people does not apply to beaches and bathing areas, but only to activities that can be classified as public gatherings or public events. 

Crowded in Pålsundet in Saturday's 30-degree August heat. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg / TT 

It includes theatre performances, cinemas, concerts, amusement parks, sporting events, dance performances, markets, street parties, festivals, demonstrations, lectures, religious gatherings and fairs. 

These events are regulated by the Public Order Act, which means that organisers risk being sentenced to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months if the ban is broken. 

For other environments and activities where many people gather, the Swedish Public Health Agency's recommendations apply, which are not statutory.

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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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