The Swedish Solution

Apart from the odd sign here and there, telling you to stay home if you have a fever, runny nose, sore throat or cough, you could easily think that nothing was going on.

Everything is still open, people are still shopping in clothes shops, beauty shops, going to the hairdressers and to get their eyebrows done. The schools are still open, as are the cafes and restaurants.

One of the flower shops in Karlaplan<

As a local you will notice however, how much quieter the tubes are, the shops may be open but there are far fewer shoppers and when I was out the other day I noticed most of those out shopping and in cafes were young people on their maternity/paternity leave.

People are staying home, individual companies are taking the initiative to get those who can, to work from home. But there is the downside in that because the government isn’t putting in any rules, federal organisation staff have to just carry on, essential worker or not.

There isn’t an “essential worker” thing here because people aren’t on lockdown so either you can work from home or you can’t, and if you can’t you are expected in work (unless you are sick).

Although my daughter´s preschool is open, a lot of the staff are off sick (because if they have any of the symptoms, e.g. runny nose, they have to stay at home) which means that they are relying heavily on substitutes. In the past week only one of the regular teachers was in the whole school. To give them some relief, and as I lost my job last month I have kept her at home for the past few weeks.

I have to say, when out, I haven’t seen anyone who looks sick at all, and in general, even before this people seem to be very sensible about staying at home with colds etc. and schools are quite strict. The problem with Coronavirus however is that you can carry it without symptoms.

Once you are sick, you have to wait for the symptoms to leave and two days later you can return to work. If someone in your household is sick but you don’t have the symptoms you are expected to work. This is completely opposite to the UK where if you are sick you must self isolate for 7 days, and others in the household must self isolate for 14 days.

I can’t help but worry that this is spreading it around like wildfire.

It is strange to get on a bus these days, you don’t even scan your ticket anymore, you get in through the back door and there is tape so you can’t go near the driver. So there are precautions. But it is still hard to keep the distance required on a busy bus.

The distance required here is a funny thing too, everywhere else seems to be recommending 2 meters, in Sweden it is only 1 meter, and although I’m usually one to be impressed with how Swedes give you a lot of personal space, not everyone here is in that mindset. Yesterday at the supermarket nobody else was even trying to keep a meter from me. At the checkout I stood a meter behind the guy infront and the woman behind me got so close to try and push me forward I could feel her breath on my neck.

Stickers on the floor in Lidl

It feels very strange to know I can just go out for the day this weekend, I could go out for a drink, but morally I know I shouldn’t and I won’t. I need to protect those around me and that’s why I self imposed a lockdown around a month ago and have only left for medical appointments or grocery shopping.

On these trips out, I have witnessed gatherings in the parks, BBQs, football games going on…. life going on as normal and sometimes I wonder if anything has actually happened or I’ve imagined it. It is very surreal. I’m sad to hear of many people ignoring the governments advice not to travel this easter weekend, and going to their summer houses. It is important to remember however that despite these people, the majority I believe are being sensible.

An empty park, one group of men having a bbq in the distance.

So is it working?

As of yesterday (11.04.20) the worldometers reported there were:

Cases: 9,685Deaths: 870
Cases: 73,758Deaths: 8,958

As far as I know, they are still only testing those who get admitted to hospital so of course the number of cases is likely much higher. You can’t really compare the countries because the population density is so different, the healthcare is different, it is tough to compare with so many variables.

Nobody knows the answer, it is an experiment for every country.

Sweden is putting trust in its citizens; some people are being sensible, others really are not.

I guess time will tell.

Louise x

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