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Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short round-up of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Sweden: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday
Remember your face mask if you need to use public transport. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

New recommendations on face masks come into effect

Recommendations to wear a face mask on public transport at busy times come into effect from today.

There is no sanction for people who do not cover their faces, but the measure has been introduced by the Public Health Agency to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus in situations where maintaining distance is not always possible.

It applies during 7am and 9am, and 4pm to 6pm on weekdays, but travellers may choose to wear face masks at other times if they need to travel, especially when social distancing is not doable. Everyone is still urged to avoid public transport if possible.

In many cities, public transport operators will give out face masks for free, and they can also be purchased from chemists as well as some other shops.

Swedish vocabulary: face mask – munskydd

Swedish leaders respond to violence in Washington DC

Swedish politicians have condemned a night of violence in the capital city of the US, after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in a Tweet in English that the attack was “an assault on democracy” and that Trump and several Congress members “bear substantial responsibility”. Foreign Minister Ann Linde used similar wording in her own statement.

President Trump called on the protestors to leave after the crowds broke into the building, but his comments were blocked by multiple social media platforms for inciting violence as he repeated claims of election fraud without evidence and told the protestors in the same speech: “You are very special, we love you.”

As of Thursday morning, four people had been reported dead as a result of the attack, including one woman shot by police and three who died in separate 'medical emergencies'. Over 50 protestors had been arrested.

Swedish vocabulary: democracy – demokrati

Swedish teachers' union calls for masks in schools

The National Union of Teachers (Lärarnas riksförbund) has said schools should offer face masls to students and teachers when the spring term begins, if schools are kept open.

Schools for under-16s have remained open for in-person teaching throughout the pandemic (except for local closures, including in Stockholm for 13-15 year olds). Over-16s at upper secondary schools have been learning remotely during the periods of highest spread of infection, and will continue distance learning until at least January 24th.

In a teachers' union survey of school safety representatives, around one in five said their school was not carrying out infection risk assessments. 

“Other measures are more important [than masks],” asserted the union's chairperson Åsa Fahlén. “But if there is a concern, and now that face masks are recommended on public transport, we think that they should be available in other situations where many people are crowded in a fairly limited area. That is how the situation usually looks at school.”

Students wear masks in a school in Italy, where schools have also been closed for months during the pandemic. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Almost 5,000 people have been stopped from entering Sweden from Denmark

So far, more than 4,700 people have been stopped from travelling to Sweden from Denmark after an entry ban due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus infection — particularly while many businesses that are closed in Denmark remain open in Sweden.

Police have warned of long queues on the Öresund Bridge due to the border controls, particularly as many return to work after the Christmas period.

Some groups are exempt from the ban and may still travel, including Swedish citizens, foreign citizens who live or work in Sweden, and people with urgent family reasons to travel. 

Swedish vocabulary: queue –

Queues at passport control on the bridge before Christmas. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Party leaders welcome resignation of official over Canaries trip

Leaders of Sweden's political parties have welcomed the decision of Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency head Dan Eliasson to step down after he travelled to the Canary Islands over Christmas despite official advice to avoid unnecessary travel. He has not been fired from his post but will be transferred to another role, retaining his salary of around 160,000 kronor per month.

The leader of Sweden's centre-Right opposition Moderate Party, Ulf Kristersson, who had called for Eliasson to step down on Tuesday, said the decision was “necessary”.

“The person leading Sweden's crisis preparedness operations cannot preach to others that they should abstain from more or less everything and then themselves travel overseas on holiday,” he said.

Annie Lööf, leader of the Centre Party, which supports the ruling Social Democrat coalition, said that it was “the only reasonable decision”.  

Eliasson had not informed Interior Minister Mikael Damberg or the government's crisis coordinator of his trip. He later said the trip was necessary in order to visit his daughter there, although according to Sweden's population register she is not a permanent resident of the Canary Islands, but registered in Stockholm, Swedish media reported.

Swedish vocabulary: reasonable – rimlig

Photo: Marianne Løvland/TT


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