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

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

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

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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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