One year after the pandemic began, Sweden is facing the prospect of its first lockdown

Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, said there’s now a “high risk” of a new spike in coronavirus infections, potentially warranting the country’s first lockdown since the pandemic started almost a year ago.

“We are seeing an increase in cases again, we need to take new measures,” Lofven said at a press briefing in Stockholm on Wednesday. “If the situation gets worse, the government is prepared to enforce a possible lockdown in parts of Sweden. Hopefully that will not be needed.”

Sweden has had to acknowledge that its earlier laissez-faire response to the pandemic resulted in a much higher death rate than seen among its Nordic neighbors, prompting the government to reverse course. Last month, Sweden enacted a law that allows it to impose lockdowns, and authorities have progressively tightened requirements this year.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s infection rate has continued to rise. In Stockholm, the number of new coronavirus cases jumped 27% last week.

Lofven said the development called for a number of stricter measures, including…

  • Limits on the number of people allowed into shops and gyms
  • Restaurants across the country won’t be allowed to stay open past 8:30 p.m., starting March 1
  • Schools may need to be closed if the infection rate continues to rise

–With assistance from Ott Ummelas.

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