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WEATHER

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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WEATHER

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

Large areas of Sweden saw extreme levels of rain over the weekend, with the city of Linköping receiving more than 100mm of rain in 24 hours, twice as it usually receives in the whole of August. 

Floods as Swedish cities get two months of rain in 24 hours

According to Swedish weather forecaster SMHI, the Linköping-Malmslätt area received 96mm between Saturday night at 8am on Sunday morning. The area normally received between 60mm and 70mm in August as a whole. 

“There was such an absurd amount of rain that the data was at first rejected by our system,” Therese Fougman, a meteorologist at the forecaster, told Sweden’s TT newswire. “It is continuing to rain during the day, and it is lying in a band over Östergötland, Sörmland och further up towards Uppland, predicting there would be a further 40mm to 50mm in the next 12 hours. 

The downpours have led to flooding in several areas, and caused traffic problem with cars at risk of aquaplaning on roads such as the E18, which were covered in a thick layer of water. 

Lennart Ågren, who was the duty leader of rescue services in Östra Götaland, told TT on Sunday afternoon that rescuers had been called out to several floods in Linköping and Mantorp. 

“There were streets under water, and water was running into properties so we had to throw all our resources at it for several hours,” he said. 

In Jönköping, rescue services were called out to flooding at a school and in other places, while in Växjö, lightening hit close to the place where a student party was being held at the local university campus. 

In Linköping, rescue services told TT that they had been called out 30 times. “We’ve been stretched but have managed to handle it,” said Pedher Helmer, who was in charge of rescue services in Östergötland over the weekend. 

The heavy rain is expected to move to Blekinge, Skåne, Öland and Gotland over the coming days, with a risk for flooding. 

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