Many countries are under lockdown as a means of fighting COVID-19, and it has changed the lifestyles of people in a drastic manner as never experienced before. Working from home, no outings, this is unlike the “normal”. However, Sweden is handling the situation in a whole different manner, with people’s daily routines changed only minimally.
Even the immeadiate neighbours of Sweden including Finland, Denmark and Norway have closed their borders as a measure to stop spreading the virus. The rest of the countries are either under lockdowns, with businesses closed. With borders nor schools closed, this relaxed approach of Sweden is very different from the rest.
Previously, assembling of more than 500 people was prohibited in Sweden, and now it has come to more than 50 people. Despite that, public places such as restaurants, shops and bars where people tend to gather in clusters are open for customers. Sweden also remains one of the very few countries in Western Europe where primary schools are open. However, high schools and universities are closed.
While Sweden reports 4,400 cases and 180 deaths, the government has requested only the sick and the at-risk groups to confine themselves. While countries with a lesser number of cases and deaths are following strict self-isolation measures, Sweden, instead of imposing strict social distancing measures, have asked people to act as responsible citizens by sticking to the recommended health guidelines including washing hands, self-isolation.
Interestingly, the citizens are in support of this rather less-strict approach to fight the virus, as seen from the polls taken.
“We trust our government and trust the system in a way that other countries maybe don’t as strongly, so maybe that also plays a part in why Sweden doesn’t feel that it’s necessary to put such forceful measures until the case worsens,” Stockholm resident Ida told AFP.
Anders Tegnell, the Publich Health Agency’s lead epidemiologist, is of the opinion that, Sweden, having a long tradition of voluntary measures that has proven successful over the years, they believe that it would be the same this time too.
However, signs of confusion keep coming up from within the country due to fear as the risk keeps growing. Some senior health officials requested the government in writing, stronger measures to tackle the situation. Several other countries too are questioning the effectiveness of this approach, considering the higher exposure to the virus.