For a bit, we could almost take this for a tribute to Albert Uderzo, who died during the week. Because in Europe, one country is still resisting the coronavirus epidemic: Sweden. As the BBC says in a report, people enjoy the sun in Stockholm and families eat ice cream in Mariatorget square. Elsewhere in the city, nightclubs have opened this week … How is this possible, when the country has nearly 3,500 cases of coronavirus and a hundred deaths?
Far from its Danish neighbors, which limited gatherings to a maximum of ten people, or to the United Kingdom, which entered containment earlier in the week, the Swedish government has chosen the strategy of self-responsibility. “Public health officials and politicians are still hoping to slow the spread of the virus without the need for drastic measures,” said the BBC. There are more guidelines than strict rules, focusing on staying at home if people are sick or elderly, washing their hands and avoiding non-essential travel, as well as work from home.
“We who are adults must be exactly that: adults. Don’t spread panic or rumors ”, said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in a television address last weekend. “No one is alone in this crisis, but each person has a heavy responsibility”, he added. As trust in public authorities is high in Sweden, this would push the inhabitants to adhere to the voluntary directives. The BBC also points to another relevant factor: demography. “Unlike multigenerational households in Mediterranean countries, more than half of Swedish households are made up of one person, which reduces the risk of spreading the virus within families.”
Politicians have also assumed that they want to keep residents in good physical and mental health, another reason why they want to avoid the rules that would keep people locked up in their homes. A popular strategy for both people and businesses. “The business community here really believes that the Swedish government and the Swedish approach are more reasonable than in many other countries,” said Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, CEO of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. Authorities, however, have not ruled out having to establish containment in the future. “I think people are inclined to listen to the recommendations, but in this kind of critical situation, I am not sure that this is enough”, said Dr. Emma Frans, Swedish epidemiologist.