Sweden has been an outlier during the coronavirus outbreak. The country has not joined many of its European neighbors in imposing strict limits on citizens’ lives, and images of people heading to work on busy streets, or chatting at cafes and bars have raised eyebrows.
Younger children have continued to go to school, although universities and schools for older students have switched to distance learning. Businesses — from hair salons to restaurants — have remained open, although people have been advised to work from home where possible.
On April 7, the government introduced a bill allowing it to act quickly and take decisions on temporary measures where needed. Care home visits were banned from April 1 and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs asked people to refrain from non-essential travel, adding: “Keep your distance and take personal responsibility.”
The death rate in Sweden has now risen significantly higher than many other countries in Europe, reaching more than 22 per 100,000 people, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University, controlled for population.
By contrast, Denmark has recorded just over seven deaths per 100,000 people, and both Norway and Finland less than four.
Sweden has registered 18,926 coronavirus cases and 2,274 deaths among its population of 10.3 million people.
Denmark has had 9,049 cases and 427 deaths in a population of 5.8 million, Norway 7,599 cases and 206 deaths among its 5.4 million people, and Finland 4,695 cases and 193 deaths in its population of 5.5 million.
Denmark and Norway are now beginning to ease their lockdowns, with children returning to school in the past 10 days, in smaller classes with markers to help keep them two meters apart. Salons and other businesses with one-to-one contact will reopen in Norway from Monday. Finland has extended its restrictions until May 13.