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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

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

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
It may be nearly June, but you wouldn't guess it. People with umbrellas board a tram in northern Stockholm on Wednesday. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Will we get news on Sweden’s ‘reopening’ plan today?

Sweden’s Prime Minister and Health Minister are expected to hold a press conference this afternoon, but the time has not yet been set and it’s unclear if this will give further details on Sweden’s plan to relax Covid-19 restrictions. This might include updates to travel rules (the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test, for example, is currently set to expire on May 31st) or to rules in place for shops and businesses, according to newswire TT.

However, it is unlikely Sweden will move fully to the next step of its relaxation plan, so-called ‘Level 2′. At this point, up to 300 people would be allowed at seated indoor events and 3,000 at seated outdoor events, while restaurants’ opening hours would return to normal.

But the Public Health Agency set out four conditions for this level: a 14-day infection rate of less than 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants; an infection rate that has been steadily declining for two weeks; fewer than 300 Covid-19 patients needing hospital care; and more than 50 percent of the adult population vaccinated. According to the agency’s latest update, Sweden has given a first vaccine dose to 43.8 percent of the adult population, and in the last weekly report the 14-day infection rate was 577 new cases per 100,000 residents.

Swedish vocabulary: government – regering

Swedish politicians debate rise in fatal gun violence

Sweden is the only country in Europe where the number of deadly shootings has increased substantially since the start of the century, a new report by the country’s National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå) shows.

In Sweden, deadly shootings have risen since the year 2000, although other fatal violence has reduced in the same period, meaning that deadly violence as a whole has remained relatively steady. Brå’s most recent figures showed that 48 people died of gun violence in 2020 (4.6 per 1 million inhabitants).

Interior Minister Mikael Damberg debated the issue with Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson on Swedish news programme Aktuellt on Wednesday evening. Åkesson said Sweden had become “the Chicago of Europe”, and argued that police have too few resources to act effectively. Damberg said the government was making “major investments” in hiring more police officers and making penalties harsher, as well as preventative work to counteract gang crime.

Swedish vocabulary: fatal shooting – dödsskjutning

Dramatic rise in Covid-19 infections in Kiruna

Across the country as a whole, the rate of infection is falling, but as always the situation looks different in different regions.

A Kiruna councillor warned that the dramatic rise of new cases in the northern city was “almost catastrophic”, speaking to SVT Nyheter. The municipality has decided to allow parents to keep their children home from preschool and up to grade 6, after distance education was previously introduced for older children.

Swedish vocabulary: situation – läge

Hundreds of flood warnings across the country

It’s been a cold and rainy May, and in eastern Svealand (the central section of the country) hundreds of reports of flooded roads and buildings have been submitted to rescue services over the past 24 hours.

The highest levels of rain fell in Tullinge in Botkyrka, and in Södertälje: 58 millimeters had fallen in the 24 hours leading up to Wednesday evening, according to weather agency SMHI. 

Several roads have been flooded and on Thursday morning, in the six regions where an SMHI warning was in place, a total of 19 roads were affected by floods. The worst affected is Örebro, with seven affected roads, followed by Stockholm with six, according to the Swedish Transport Administration.

The rain is forecast to continue on Thursday across much of central Sweden, but not at the same intensity as yesterday.

Swedish vocabulary: flood – översvämning

Electricity prices are unusually high in southern Sweden

Electricity prices are unusually high for the season, with the kilowatt hour price of 72 öre in southern Sweden the highest level since mid-February.

In recent years, the price gap between the north and south of the country has grown, due to more electricity being generated in the north as well as lower demand due to the smaller population.

Swedish vocabulary: price of electricity – elpris

Person who attended hotel breakfast with suspected Covid-19 reported to police

A person who went to a breakfast room at a hotel in Mjölby, Östergötland while they had suspected Covid-19 has been reported to police for causing danger to others, after the regional council reported the incident. The local newspaper Corren was first to report the story.

Although many of Sweden’s coronavirus regulations for private individuals are not legally enforceable with fines or other sanctions, under the Communicable Diseases Act people could face fines or even jail time if you are found to have infected others with the coronavirus either knowingly or through negligence; the same applies to other socially dangerous diseases such as HIV.

Police will now investigate whether the incident can indeed be classed as causing danger to others, and the preliminary investigation leader Marcus Hoppe said it was the only second report of this kind he had seen.

Swedish vocabulary: breakfast – frukost

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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

More ID checks for foreigners, SAS shares plummet and MPs pose with Kurdish terror group flag. Find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup on Wednesday.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

SAS shares plummet in Stockholm after US bankruptcy proceedings 

Shares in the troubled Scandinavian airline SAS fell 10 percent in Stockholm after it announced that it would start bankruptcy proceedings in the US. 

“We simply need to do much more and do it much faster,” SAS chairman Carsten Dilling told a press conference where he  defended what he called “a well thought-through decision.”

In the US, Chapter 11 is a mechanism allowing a company to restructure its debts under court supervision while continuing to operate.

The move was made in order “to proceed with the implementation of key elements” of its business transformation plan, the troubled carrier, which employs nearly 7,000 people, said in a statement.

Swedish vocab: ett rekonstruktionsförfarande – a reconstruction process

Sweden to boost stop-and-search of immigrants in Sweden 
Sweden’s police and coastguards are to be given powers to search people for passports and other ID if they refuse to voluntarily help verify that they have the right to live or work in Sweden. 
“The ability to carry out body searches is critical if we are going to be able to identify foreigners who do not voluntarily agree to demonstrate that they have the right to be in the country,” she said. 
– Möjlighet till kroppsvisitering är avgörande för att kunna identifiera en utlänning som inte frivilligt medverkar till att klarlägga om han eller hon har rätt att vistas i landet. Givetvis kommer det att krävas en grundad misstanke för att visitera människor, säger Andersson.

Swedish vocab: kroppsvisitering – a physical body search  

Nato begins ratification process for Swedish membership 

Nato on Tuesday kicked off momentous accession procedures for Sweden and Finland, aiming to expand the military alliance to 32 countries in reaction to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

But the alliance has no current plans to send troops to Sweden and Finland once they complete the membership process
, the defensive alliance’s deputy chief told AFP on Tuesday.

“We don’t plan to have an additional presence in either country, they have formidable national forces. They’re capable of defending themselves,” Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said in a telephone interview.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned last week that “if military contingents and military infrastructure were deployed there, we would be obliged to respond symmetrically and raise the same threats for those territories where threats have arisen for us”.

Geoana said that “we don’t plan to have Nato bases in these two countries, because they have a very high level of military and strategic maturity”.

After the accession process was launched Tuesday, it is up to parliaments in all 30 member states to ratify Oslo and Helsinki’s membership of the Atlantic alliance.

Denmark and Canada ratify Swedish Nato membership 

Denmark and Canada both ratified Sweden and Finland’s membership on Tuesday, just hours after the ratification process was launched. 

“I’m proud that Denmark has hit our goals of welcoming Finland and Sweden into Nato as fast as we have,” said Denmark’s foreign minister Jeppe Kofod. 

“We are stronger together,” Canadian foreign minister, Mélanie Joly, wrote on Twitter. 

Norway’s foreign minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, has signed the protocol after it was approved in advance by the country’s parliament, and it will be submitted to Nato on Wednesday.

Estonia’s Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas, is calling in her country’s parliament to ratify the protocol on Wednesday. 

Swedish vocab: att skriva under – to sign  

Left Party MPs pose with flag of Kurdish party classed as terror organisation

Nooshi Dadgostar, the leader of Sweden’s Left Party, posed for photos on Tuesday while waving the flag of the PKK, the Kurdish group classed as a terror organisation by the US and EU, as well as by Sweden. 

The Left Party MPS Daniel Riazat, Momodou Malcolm Jallow and Lorena Delgado Varas held up the flag for a photo that was then published in the Aftonbladet newspaper. 

“We are not backing down over this,” said Lorena Delgado Varas to the newspaper. “These are organisations that are resistance movements, which have a democrat organisation, a feminist organisation, in a context where Turkey is a dictatorship.”