Swedish PM Stefan Löfven: Coronavirus strategy is ‘in essence’ unchanged

Swedish PM Stefan Löfven: Coronavirus strategy is 'in essence' unchanged
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
Sweden is continuing to pursue the same strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic, despite a recent slew of stricter measures, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven insisted on Tuesday.

Sweden has made headlines around the world for its decision to combat the spread of the virus with mostly non-coercive measures and never imposing the type of lockdown seen elsewhere around Europe.

But faced with a strong second wave and a once again rapidly rising death toll, the country imposed stronger measures during the autumn, notably a ban on public gatherings of more than eight people and a call for people to severely limit social interactions to one household of a very small circle of friends.

On Monday, the country for the first time during the pandemic imposed a travel ban to one of its Nordic neighbours, barring entry from Denmark to avoid lockdown-weary Danes travelling to Sweden to go shopping.

“I can understand the urge to ask: Has the strategy been changed? No, in essence it is the exact same strategy, make sure to keep the spread down as much as possible,” Löfven told broadcaster SVT.

“Of course you have to be able to make changes, depending on the situation,” Löfven said.

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Even if stay-at-home orders and a complete closure of restaurants and shops are not on the agenda, new measures were introduced on Friday, including a ban on the sale of alcohol after 8pm and for the first time a soon-to-be-issued recommendation to wear masks on public transport.

Caps on the number of visitors to shops and gyms were also announced together with requirement for a maximum of four people per table in restaurants.

The government is also preparing a one-year “pandemic law” that could limit the number of people in public places and regulate businesses and services by restricting opening hours or forcing them to close.

Originally, the government was aiming to have it in place by March, but now aims to passed by January.

At a press conference, Löfven also promised a government probe of elderly care – where nearly half of deaths have occurred – and a committee to investigate whether the country's constitution needs to be amended to allow future governments more powers in a similar crisis.

Member comments

  1. First, the strategy has changed. Originally Tegnell said the strategy was not to overwhelm the health care sector, even as privately he wrote it was herd immunity. Second, even if the strategy has not changed, the tactics to execute the strategy have changed dramatically by Swedish standards. So he’s playing word games. Thirdly, if the strategy is to keep the spread low why are the subways often packed sometimes with beggars going person to person asking for money? Why a couple weeks ago at Slussen subway were there 6 ticket checkers at the exit (only one masked) and 3 vardningsvakt checking everyone exiting to see if someone had cheated on the fare. How many unnecessary contacts were created there? The problem starts with leadership and is actualized on a daily basis by far too much person to person contact across society.

  2. So frustrating to read. It makes one want to shake so many officials and say “Wake up!” The tone is always so soothing and always about “discussions”.
    There is still too much pride and defense of Sweden’s failed approach. Meanwhile people are shopping in more crowded areas without masks, haircutters and customers sit close to one another without masks, anyone can walk into a hospital without a mask…all of this while more people are infecting others. The numbers of cases and deaths continue to rise and officials moderate recommendations are always not enough. There is a “soon to be issued recommendation” to wear masks on public transport. What is wrong with Right Now? Sweden must stop reacting so slowly and cautiously worrying about the effect on people of having to deal with new recommendations. What about the effect on people as the number of sick and dying continues to climb? Wishing this problem did not need stronger recommendations or mandates will not make it so. I believe most Swedes would willingly follow stronger recommendations, but they aren’t hearing them from officials.

  3. The Swedish strategy was to let the virus spread freely so as to reach a hypothetical herd immunity. It has failed miserably.

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