Swedish police would ‘lack resources’ to enforce proposals for larger events

Swedish police have said no to a government proposal that would allow more people to attend certain public events, saying they would not have enough resources to ensure that rules are followed.

Swedish police would 'lack resources' to enforce proposals for larger events
Malmö footballer Mimmi Larsson celebrates in front of empty seats. Photo: Jonas Lindstedt / TT

The government recently proposed raising the 50-person limit on public events, if the audience members have designated seats and can keep a distance from each other.

Sweden's Public Health Agency responded to the proposals suggesting a 500-person limit for seated events and a minimum one-metre distance between attendees – lower than the two-metre distance suggested by the government.

But police have said it could be problematic to change the rules for some events and not others.

In their response to the proposals, police said that dance performances at restaurants would be permitted, but not races in a forest, which could be confusing and counter-productive given that the risk of infection is lower outdoors.

The proposals would also mean that demonstrations would be subject to stricter regulations than concerts and shows.

These discrepancies could make it complicated to enforce the proposed changes to legislation, the police said. 

And they added that it would be legally difficult to set conditions for organisers on how attendees should keep their distance (for example, how entry to venues should be managed, or how seats should be marked) which could make it hard to implement this in practice. 

Instead, the police suggested a gradual increase in the maximum number of participants, which would apply to all events.

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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.