Why won’t Sweden quarantine?
At this point, most of Europe is under strict quarantine rules, the restrictions imposed are to aid the slowing of the spread of the coronavirus. But in Sweden, there is no lockdown and only a few measures in place. But why won’t Sweden quarantine? are they rolling the dice with public health, or is the rest of the world overreacting?
Sweden’s relaxed approach is a stark difference to its closest neighbours Denmark and Norway – like most of Europe they’ve closed everything but essentials. Swedes are roaming free with schools, bars, restaurants, sports clubs and hairdresser staying open.
The streets of Stockholm are quieter than usual but compared to London they are busy. Standing in bars is banned but if you can find a seat you’re free to enjoy a pint! Sweden has also said gatherings of more than 50 people are being banned and the over-70s are urged to self-isolate.
Compared to the rest of the world Sweden’s restrictions are the most relaxed you’ll find. Prime Minister Stephan Lofven has warned that there will be tough times ahead but says its the Swedes responsibility to stay safe. “We all, as individuals, have to take responsibility. We can’t legislate and ban everything,” he said.
His tactic is miles away from the UK’s approach – Stay at Home! Sweden says the UK’s approach is “pessimistic.” The latest figures in Sweden show nearly 3,500 cases and 105 deaths.
Sweden’s state epidemiologist Andres Tengell says “As long as the Swedish epidemic development stays at this level, I don’t see any big reason to take measures that you can only keep up for a very limited amount of time”
‘Open for business’
Sweden’s approach has kept businesses open, reducing the economic impact. And the public seems to be in support of their government’s approach. The Swedish public believes it is a more sensible approach compared to the draconian steps taken by the rest of Europe. Sweden will also be in a better position when the pandemic dies out. Lofven’s government are less inclined to be seen to just “do something” compared with the rest of the West. Swedes have not pressured the state to restrict their freedoms in the same way many other countries appear to have done.
Only with time will we know if this approach works. The Swedish public, who have been entrusted with adjusting their behaviours accordingly without the threat of police, are being given an important role to play.
The level of trust is an important factor in Sweden’s approach. With both the government and the people trusting each other through the crisis. The public trusts that politicians are working for public interests.
By taking a more measured response and basing their actions on advice rather than enforcement, Sweden’s government are rolling the dice but maybe it’s less risky than measures in Britain. Only time will tell.
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