Sweden to reveal new plan for relaxing Covid-19 restrictions

Sweden to reveal new plan for relaxing Covid-19 restrictions
A sign in Malmö urging people to keep a distance. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
The Swedish Public Health Agency is set to present a new plan today to outline exactly how Sweden could adapt or remove its coronavirus measures step by step.

Sweden never fully locked down during the pandemic, but some restrictions have been imposed at various points in the past year.

The reopening plan has been ordered by the government and is meant to clearly link the lifting of the measures and “a new normal” to the level of Covid-19 infection in Sweden, as well as what measures the Public Health Agency thinks may still be needed in the longer term. The new plan is meant to be more in-depth than previous similar reports produced by the agency.

Measures that may be necessary even if the spread of infection goes down to manageable levels could include for example continued increased testing capacity, further vaccination rounds, recommendations to avoid crowding and preparing for new outbreaks.

Some of the restrictions that are about to run out at the end of the week unless they are extended include the 8.30pm closing time for bars and restaurants, and eased restrictions on cultural and sporting events. They have already been extended several times in recent months, following a serious third wave outbreak in Sweden.

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A total of 1,021,604 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Sweden so far, and 7,224 Covid-19 patients have been treated in intensive care since the start of the pandemic, according to the Public Health Agency’s data on Tuesday. A total of 14,217 people have died.

The number of new cases is currently on a downward trajectory in Sweden, albeit still at a very high level. The 14-day incidence rate (new cases reported per 100,000 residents) now stands at 659, which is down from 691 a week ago.

But it varies between regions: the incidence rate is the highest in Kronoberg with 1,053 new cases in the past two weeks (and increasing), 951 in Västernorrland (decreasing), 668 in Uppsala (decreasing), and 613 in Skåne (a flatter curve compared with most other regions, but possibly increasing slightly at the moment).

A total of 3,026,101 people have been given at least one dose of a vaccine, and 883,761 have been given two doses. That corresponds to 36.9 and 10.8 percent, respectively, of Sweden’s adult population.


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