Adopt Sweden's model

We should adopt Sweden's way of being with the virus - Swedes are laughing and basking in freedoms considered normal in most parts of the world not long ago, before coronavirus lockdowns, quarantines and mass restrictions upended social norms. As other nations in Europe begin to consider reopening their economies, Sweden’s experience would seem to argue for less caution, not more. “My respect for those who died, but we are doing something right here in Sweden,” said Johan Mattsson, 44, as he was having a drink at a cafe on Skanegatan Street. The restaurant consultant praised the freedoms he had in Sweden compared to other countries. “I’m not seeing very different statistics in many other countries,” he said. “I’m happy we didn’t go into lockdown. Life has to go on.”

While other countries were slamming on the brakes, Sweden kept its borders open, allowed restaurants and bars to keep serving, left preschools and grade schools in session and placed no limits on public transport or outings in local parks. Hairdressers, yoga studios, gyms and even some cinemas have remained open.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned. Museums have closed and sporting events have been canceled. At the end of March, the authorities banned visits to nursing homes.

That’s roughly it. There are almost no fines, and police officers can only ask people to oblige. Pedestrians wearing masks are generally stared at as if they have just landed from Mars.

The Scandinavian country introduced “trust-based” measures, advising older people to avoid social contact and recommending people wash hands, social distance, work from home where possible and avoid travel.

Anders Tegnell, the country’s state epidemiologist, has said it was “hard to understand” how implementing similar lockdown measures to other countries would have cut down on Covid-19 deaths in the Nordic nation.

Half of the country’s coronavirus deaths were in care homes, he said, where visits have already been banned.

“At least 50 per cent of our death toll is within elderly homes and we have a hard time to understand how a lockdown would stop the introduction of disease,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We already had a law making it illegal for visitors to come to elderly homes. They need constant care, they need a lot of people coming and going to take care of them.

“So it’s a bit unclear to us if a lockdown really would have stopped this from happening or not. It’s a difficult question and I don’t think we have the answer and I’m not sure we’ll ever get the answer completely.”

Mr Tegnell argued Sweden might weather a second wave of the virus better than other countries, because its measures can be kept in place for longer than the harsher lockdowns implemented throughout the world.

“We also have measures that we can keep on doing for a long time,” he said. “So I think that’s the other part of our reasoning, that we want to have something sustainable if we need to continue this suppression and mitigation that we are doing right now.

“We can go on doing this for a long time since our schools are still open, most of our society is working but on an adapted level. So if it looks like we’re going to get a second wave in the autumn with a lot of cases, we could easily continue doing what we’re doing today.”

Why the contribution is important

Sweden's model supports mental and emotional wellbeing. It respects the freedom of choice and upholds faith in our ability to make good choices. It stays away from fear mongering and so is not feeding anxiety and stress. And for those in high risk they can choose to stay home and have support from healthy people with their food etc. It is not ruining their economy.

by golightly on May 08, 2020 at 09:09PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.1
Based on: 30 votes


  • Posted by TMcCurrach May 08, 2020 at 21:20

    Totally agree. We need to make sensible decisions and the wider public have to help by making sensible decisions. People will do this long term if they believe they can also keep their jobs and the economy running.
  • Posted by Kylesku May 08, 2020 at 21:53

    Hard to argue against it, since we started the lockdown we have had higher infectio n & higher death rates than Sweden.

    What really annoys me is that n one in the media is following up on this . All teh media do now is to repeat government briefings.

    I hope when the enquiry come after this is over that those in positions of power are found accountable for all the uneccessary deaths that they have caused.

  • Posted by sunshinethrough May 09, 2020 at 07:29

    In comparison to Sweden, the UK did not implement a stringent entry policy to deal with the import of covid19, therefore Sweden was/is dealing with fewer incoming cases on a daily basis. Scotland had no choice but to work in line with UK policy. Independent courses of action and kingdom wide policies would help areas within the UK respond according to their own needs and value bases. Only when the NHS feel they have the number of hospitalised cases and PPE under control, should there be any lifting of restrictions. Unless Scotland shuts its border to the rest of the UK or implements a 2 week quarantine when visitors travel from elsewhere in UK/ rest of the world, ultimately people will have to be given the choice as to whether they risk exposure to the virus or not and lives will continue to be lost until such time a vaccine is discovered.
  • Posted by Davidinverness May 09, 2020 at 07:30

    There are several studies showing that the stay at home message makes little or no difference to the spread of the virus. The key measurexrequired are personal hygiene and isolating affected individuals. I agree entirely that the lockdown should be eased and has not been very effective.
  • Posted by Scotswede May 09, 2020 at 08:45

    In principle, I support the notion.

    But there are fundamental differences in culture between Swedes (and most nordics) and Scots.

    Trust based measures in nordic countries typically work because there is a high value placed on individual and collective social responsibility. It's an approach engrained over generations.

    I don't see this to the same level in Scotland at all (although there are a great many that would do right) and I'm not convinced that enough of the population would voluntarily follow the necessary measures to get the balance right. I'd say instructions have been clear here, with explanation justification and a large number of deaths, and even then so many aren't keeping to the rules.

  • Posted by Shannonxo May 09, 2020 at 10:16

    Totally agree with this, I have been a big fan of how Sweden operate as a country for a long time. Before COVID-19 even happened. Since we have went on lockdown, the numbers have continued to grow and grow and grow and thousands of people have died which is surely sad but I do not personally believe that lockdown has made that number any lower than it would've been had we not went into lockdown. I know many people will disagree with that but that's just my personal view on it. I think that if the elderly and vulnerable need to stay at home for their safety then fair enough, that is understandable but I think everyone else needs to be allowed to go back to work/school if it is safe to do so.
  • Posted by PiedFifer May 09, 2020 at 10:18

    If we compare the graphs for excess deaths Sweden has roughly half that of the countries with the strictest lockdowns (comparing only countries where the virus has been allowed to spread widely). Their excess deaths are on the decline and heading back towards the average expected.

    There is a strong argument that stricter lockdowns are causing more excess deaths than looser ones. We need to factor in the collateral damage being caused by having a strict lockdown particularly when the Swedish approach is showing it's possible to flatten the curve with the need to be so strict.
  • Posted by rosemarym May 09, 2020 at 12:00

    Current figures indicate that cases and deaths in Sweden are rising and the country may have to re-consider its approach.
  • Posted by argallan May 09, 2020 at 12:20

    Here here
  • Posted by Arete May 10, 2020 at 04:53

    I don't know where some of these facile assertions are coming from, but comparing Sweden with all the other Scandinavian countries bar none, all of which have similar cultures but have imposed much more rigorous lockdown, the Covid death rate in Sweden is **almost 10 times greater** than each of all the others. That is a matter of indisputable current record.

    There is an assertion by some in Sweden that it will all work out the same in the end, but that is totally unproven and won't be known until perhaps it's all too late. Why take a chance on some possibly fantastical defeatist outcome when lives can clearly be protected and saved right now? It's playing roulette with real people's lives, and for what?
  • Posted by Zaffarella May 11, 2020 at 18:06

    I fully appreciate there are difficult choices, however, social distancing continued much longer will ultimately kill more people than Covid 19 and certainly kill society. Government must be greatest good for greatest number.
    Now that lockdown has gained the time to put capacity in place the “stay safe” narrative will need to change to reflect;
    Fatal for less than 1%
    Vast majority (over 80%) asymptomatic or mild; relatively few have required hospitalisation.
    Current strain is fairly narrow in its target.
    People die; in Scotland 4,700 people, on average, each month every year (average 2001-2019 per NRS). There were 1,559 Covid deaths in Scotland as at 2 May. Many of those dying with Covid 19 on the death certificate (but not necessarily a contributory factor) would have died in any event this year.
    May never be vaccine; it would wrong and very costly to society at large to wait for one – accordingly we must manage this.
    Covid 19 now endemic and should be dealt with like any other perennial virus.
    Going forward Covid 19 can be managed by creating capacity (Infectious diseases hospitals?). Unfortunately, those in care homes are amongst the most susceptible to the virus, some form of gateway regime or system for entrance to care homes will be required.
    Fitness (substantially issues caused by obesity) makes a massive difference to outcome; this is an opportunity to reinforce that being fit will save lives and the NHS
    I am glad to see that the Swedish approach has now been commended by the WHO as an exemplar for moving forward. Although it has controls, it has allowed more social interaction. This approach will certainly have reduced any “future wave”. As at 11 May, the UK (with a population 6.56 times that of Sweden) has had 31,855 deaths. Sweden has recorded 3,225 deaths. That is 66.4% of the UK total. The Swedish approach has to be considered, as it is less damaging to society and the economy at large.
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