For the first time, Sweden is introducing relatively tight Covid-19 restrictions out of growing fears that the country’s pandemic limitation strategy may have failed.
Compared to other countries, Sweden imposed virtually no restrictions on its population hoping for herd immunity to develop. Officials had hoped their approach would do the trick without a national lockdown.
However, as the second wave of the pandemic grips most of Europe, the country is experiencing a surge in infections and hospital admissions.
Sweden is now reporting 166,707 cases and 6,082 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Former Swedish Chief Medical Officer Annika Linde told The Telegraph: “Wishful thinking has been guiding Swedish decisions too much. The authorities have been slow all the time. Instead of being proactive, they’ve run after the virus, and the virus has been able to spread too much before they take action.”
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven warned about the gravity of the situation, saying, “We are facing a situation that could turn black as night.”
From Monday, 17 of the county’s 21 regions have been put under stricter measures by the Public Health Agency, as intensive care admissions doubled in just days.
A nationwide ban on alcohol after 10pm in restaurants, bars and nightclubs is among the new measures, as is a ban on people visiting their loved ones in elderly care homes.
However, for now, authorities are not considering recommending Swedes wear face masks, according to Euronews reporter Per Bergfors Nyberg.
He says Swedish health officials believe making masks mandatory will give people a “false sense of security” and could make matters worse.