Sweden Steps Up Virus Controls After International Bewilderment

(Bloomberg) --

After making international headlines for its “laissez-faire” approach in trying to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Sweden has now taken a step toward somewhat tougher measures.

On Friday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said his country will ban public gatherings of more than 50 people, down from 500. The move follows a request from Sweden’s Public Health Authority.

Sweden’s approach has raised questions about how socially distant people should be to stay safe, given the devastating impact of shutting down an entire economy. But even within the Nordic country, there have been calls for tougher laws as Swedes worry that existing restrictions are too lax.

Lofven, a Social Democrat, has mostly focused on a voluntary model of social distancing. Meanwhile, schools, bars, cafes and restaurants all remain open.

“We will never be able to legislate everything, we will never be able to ban all harmful actions,” Lofven said. “We all as individuals must take our responsibility.”

As of Friday, Sweden had reported 92 deaths from the virus, and just over 3,000 confirmed cases, mostly in Stockholm. But Lofven said there are no plans to cordon off the capital.

Still, the prime minister warned that Swedes may yet face more restrictions.

“The government remains prepared to take the necessary decisions,” Lofven said. “Everyone must be aware that more measures will be taken.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.