No face masks, no lockdown, no closure of restaurants or schools: the Swedish government trusted the Swedes’ self-discipline to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of them supported their decisions and working from home became the norm. But in the end, the conversations about being responsible and socially distant proved to be insufficient. Although Sweden’s Covid-19 figures are not worse than the European average, the country has reported ten times more deaths than its Scandinavian neighbors.
With the arrival of winter, the threat from Covid-19 increased, which required a change in strategy: the Swedish government restricted public gatherings but left shops open. Our reporters have been in Sweden but also in Finland and Denmark to meet the Swedes who have left their country for fear of catching coronavirus.
Sweden, where 10.3 million people live, has reported a total of more than 610,000 cases of Covid-19 and at least 12,487 deaths, according to the latest official figures from 16 February.
>> Covid-19: Sweden tightens restrictions in case of cases
Although it has followed a less strict approach than most other nations, the kingdom has gradually tightened restrictions since November in the midst of a fierce second wave, including a ban on the sale of alcohol after 8pm and at public gatherings of more than eight people.
Cases have been declining since mid-December, but the decline has slowed recently and health officials are worried that a third wave may be just around the corner.
>> Sweden’s Covid-19 strategy has caused a “strengthening of the epidemic”