So everyone in the world now knows that when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus Sweden has gone its own way. In fact it seems to be in a very small minority (along with the Netherlands) when it comes to how it has responded as a nation. It is not in lockdown and, as yet, has no plans to be in lockdown. It doesn’t even has plans to quarantine Stockholm which is by far the worst affected region.
If you want the numbers and compare Sweden to other countries, then I recommend this site from the national broadcaster SVT. It’s in Swedish but it’s mostly numbers and graphs. What it shows is that Sweden sits squarely in the middle of the pack. There are worst affected nations, although relative to its Nordic neighbours the death rate is higher.
So my children were at school (it’s Easter holidays now) and we’re assuming they’re going back next week. My wife works in a pre-school and she’s still at work. We can go to the shops and things are quiet but normal, the restaurants are quiet but open. The buses and underground are working but people are spacing which is their inclination anyway. As the weather slowly improves, it’s nice to be able to go for a run, take the kids to do their sports and so on.
On my last trip to the shops, I noticed a few face masks for the first time (mostly Asians) and there are an increasing number of signs around with the usual public health advice. Shops have changed their open hours, as much I guess for financial as health reasons and there’s the constant updating, briefing, social distancing going on. So life goes on but definitely not as normal. It’s more of a twilight zone.
Our church can’t meet for two reasons. Firstly, we’re more than 50 which is the limit on social gatherings but more significant is the fact that we’re not allowed to use our rented venue. It’s a senior citizens centre and no one is allowed in who is not a care/health worker.
What that means is that we some families being very cautious and happily being online, many people working from home while others are a bit bolder and still mixing it up a bit. As of right now, there doesn’t appear to be evidence that Sweden will be hit significantly worse than other nations and so their NOT-lockdown policy seems reasonable. There are definitely doubters around, although anecdotally I think the immigrants are far more sceptical about this policy than the Swedes because we all have relatives in other countries in full-lockdown apocalypse mode.
Personally, I’m broadly supportive of the current strategy as it appears to be working at least as well as lockdown strategies (although that could change) and so there’s disruption but it’s manageable and that seems reasonable given the current numbers. The Swedish health system is not yet maxed out and extra capacity has been added. We’ll see whether it’s enough.
- Nils Karlson on the Swedish strategy (all 5 points are true but I think 2, 4 and 5 are especially insightful/helpful)
- Lockdown, what lockdown? Sweden’s unusual response to coronavirus
- In the Coronavirus Fight in Scandinavia, Sweden Stands Apart
The case for…
- Sweden: The New Superpower
- Could the Swedish lifestyle help fight coronavirus?
- Despite Coronavirus, Sweden Refuses To Shutter Businesses and Limit Gatherings
- Is Sweden’s Lax Approach to Coronavirus the Right Call?
- Sweden Girds for Thousands of Deaths Amid Laxer Virus Policy
My other posts on the coronavirus
- Convenience, comfort and the coronavirus – 12th February
- Don’t panic – 10th March
- Not my ways – 15th March
- In the valley of shadows – 18th March
- The Curiosity Index (Coronavirus edition) – 19th March
- Nothing but… – 23rd March
- Will a pandemic turn Europe back to God? – 3rd April