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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
Stefan Löfven (R) congratulated US President Joe Biden, pictured here during a 2016 visit to Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Decisions on coronavirus measures for schools and restaurants expected today

Several of Sweden's coronavirus measures and laws that had been set to expire at the end of the week were updated today, which was announced at a government press conference at 8.10am.

  • The current recommendation for upper secondary schools (gymnasieskolor, usually for 16-18-year olds) to switch to remote learning was extended until April 1st, but adapted so that schools may have some parts of teaching in-person, in combination with distance learning.
  • The ban on alcohol sales at bars and restaurants after 8pm was extended for a further two weeks, until at least February 7th. The maximum number of people who can sit at one table in a restaurant or bar remains the same at four.
  • Municipalities and regions are urged to keep non-essential public services closed until at least February 7th. This includes for example swimming pools and museums.
  • The recommendation to wear face masks on public transport between 7-9am and 4-6pm on weekdays meanwhile was extended “for the rest of the spring”.

The Local followed the press conference live, so you can read a more detailed report here.

Swedish vocabulary: expire – upphöra/gå ut

Sweden's upper secondary school students have been learning from home since December. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedish PM welcomes end of Trump's term as president

US President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday, bringing Donald Trump's four-year term to an end.

Writing on Facebook, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven congratulated Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and shared strong words about their predecessor. 

“Trump's time in the White House is finally over. His presidency can be summed up with chaos, division, threats and hatred. This is a wake-up call for what can happen when hate and extremism are brought in from the cold,” said Löfven.

Swedish vocabulary: finally – äntligen

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and then-Vice President Joe Biden pictured in 2016. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Swedish opposition leader: 'Why I'm prepared to work with the Sweden Democrats'

The leader of the right-of-centre Moderates, and Sweden's de facto leader of the opposition, Ulf Kristersson said that the far-right Sweden Democrats have become more “serious” in their politics.

Speaking on public broadcaster SVT's programme 30 minuter, Kristersson said: “I think the Sweden Democrats' rhetoric has changed a lot over recent years. They have branched out politically and take part much more seriously in parliamentary work.”

In particular, he said they had been “constructive” during work on the pandemic, law and order, migration and some aspects of energy politics. 

Kristersson said his party currently has no intention to form a coalition with the Sweden Democrats. But it's the latest step in warming relations towards the far-right party, which in 2018 Kristersson said he would never work with, after the two parties' leaders had their first meeting last year.

In the 2018 election, neither of the two main blocs (one including the Moderates and three other right-of-centre parties, the other including the governing centre-left coalition) won enough votes to govern alone. In order for either coalition to govern, they needed other parties to either support them in a parliamentary vote or at least offer passive support by abstaining. 

This led to a split in the centre-right coalition, after the Moderates and the Christian Democrats were prepared to accept passive support from the Sweden Democrats. Their two coalition partners, the Centre and Liberal parties were not willing to be part of a government relying on the Sweden Democrats, so instead offered passive support to the centre-left coalition which is now in power.

Swedish vocabulary: constructive – konstruktiv

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, left, shakes hands with Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson during a parliamentary debate. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

A 100,000 tonne pile of rubbish is on fire in Stockholm

Stockholm residents may have noticed or smelled smoke over recent days, and the reason is an enormous dumpster fire that has been burning since before Christmas.

The fire started at a rubbish tip in Botkyrka, southern Stockholm, on December 23rd and has continued for weeks, covering an area around 10,000 square metres, while efforts to extinguish it are only able to begin this week, due to a risk of landslides.

Swedish vocabulary: rubbish tip – soptipp

Video: Mitt i

Dog-owners warned after glass-stuffed treats found in Malmö

Home-baked pastries stuffed with shards of glass have recently been found in three different locations in Malmö in an apparent attempt to harm local dogs, Sydsvenskan reports.

Since last autumn, around ten different incidents have been reported, including chicken drumsticks and sausages with stapes or other items that could hurt an animal if it ingested them. Police have asked residents to be aware and contact police if they see anyone acting strangely.

Swedish vocabulary: dog-owner – hundägare

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