‘Stay in your bubble’: Swedish leaders warn of Christmas coronavirus peak

'Stay in your bubble': Swedish leaders warn of Christmas coronavirus peak
Sweden's Health Minister, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Agency director-general on Tuesday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
"Stay in your bubble," Public Health Agency director Johan Carlson urged people as he and the Swedish government presented new coronavirus guidelines for Christmas.

Sweden's ban on public gatherings of more than eight people will remain in place through the Christmas holidays, and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven reiterated that eight is also meant to set the standard for all social gatherings.

“Avoid new contacts, meet as few people as you can and meet them as little as you can. Meet them briefly and keep a distance. And preferably meet them outside. Avoid travelling by train and bus,” said Löfven.

A total of 297,732 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Sweden to date, and 7,200 have died.

“The situation continues to be serious in our country, there is still significant spread (of infection) and there is a great risk of increased spread over the holidays. And that could end really badly,” said Carlson, warning that according to the Public Health Agency's estimates, the outbreak may peak before or during Christmas.

“Don't take unnecessary risks this Christmas. It's not worth it,” he added.

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Sweden's current regional coronavirus recommendations are set to expire on Sunday, and will be replaced by new, national guidelines. These include, as before, a recommendation to limit your close social contacts.

Carlson urged people to stay in their current bubble of social contacts if possible. But he said that if people have to travel, and if they think it is necessary to for example meet their parents or grandparents, they should try to travel responsibly, by for example travelling in the same care or use public transport with bookable seats.

“But of course both adults and children have a need to go home to their parents. Middle-aged parents want to go home to grandma, who has perhaps been sitting home alone all of this year. And then you have to make preparations,” he said, adding that people should then take extra care to follow all the social distancing recommendations around ten days or so before they see anyone outside of their usual social bubble.

We will have an in-depth explainer about the new national Christmas recommendations for you soon on The Local. They also include urging people to keep a distance and to avoid crowded places, especially indoors.

You are required to take precautions to protect yourself and others from the spread of Covid-19. You should think about how you can avoid being infected and how you can avoid infecting others. You must show consideration for your fellow human beings, which is especially important in relation to people to risk groups,” states the Public Health Agency's decision.

As before, the recommendations have a legal basis, but there are generally no repercussions for someone who does not follow them. One exception is if a person deliberately breaks the guidelines and spreads the infection to other people, in which case they could be prosecuted in accordance with Sweden's Communicable Diseases Act.

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