In Sweden, events are limited to eight people for four weeks, but only in public spaces. Many doubt whether this will do anything.
VALLEY taz | “Unprecedented, but absolutely necessary in order to be able to limit the spread of corona infections,” said Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Monday, characterizing the measure that will come into force next Tuesday through a change in the regulation: “Staying at home is the order of the day,” says Löfven.
“An unheard-of curtailment of personal freedom,” commented Swedish television. According to this ordinance, which was issued in March at the beginning of the pandemic, an upper limit of 300 and in some regions a maximum of 50 people has applied. The red-green minority government does not have to expect political resistance in view of this radical cut.
Even if the number of new corona deaths per 100,000 inhabitants For example, since September in Sweden has been significantly below that of Germany and until recently this also applied to the relative values for new infections: All parliamentary parties agree that the development is going in the wrong direction with a 14-day incidence value of currently 511.
However, in Sweden one wonders what the tightened contact restrictions can really do. They essentially only apply to gatherings that require police approval, such as demonstrations, open-air concerts or sporting events that do not take place in a stadium or hall.
For all other cultural and sporting events, according to the draft ordinance, the previous restriction to sometimes 300, sometimes 50 spectators applies if they have a seat one meter away from the neighbors and the distance rules can also be observed. Schools, collective transport, retail, hospitality and fitness facilities are not affected at all.
A real lockdown is out of the question for Sweden, emphasized the Prime Minister. Such a break, for example associated with the ban on private celebrations, would not be possible at all due to the current legal situation. Basically, Löfven wants to stick to the previous line of recommendations and appeals. What Stockholm apparently wants to achieve: that the Swedes take these recommendations again as seriously as they did in spring.
But symbolic politics with the ordering of measures, the meaning of which the government itself cannot really explain, could prove to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is understandable that one wants to slow down the number of infections and in no way risk the number of deaths from spring repeating themselves.
On the other hand, the government has known since the report of a commission of inquiry, at the latest, that the death rate at the time in the privatized and ruined elderly care facilities had almost nothing to do with inadequate contact restrictions. The majority of the over 5,000 corona deaths counted by the summer were in the homes.
Masks are ineffective in everyday life
For the current 8-person rule, the government has no backing from the health authorities. It was precisely the corona line jointly established on a scientific basis by the health authority and the government that has been able to rely on consistently high support from 80 percent of Swedes since the beginning of the pandemic.
However, there is apparently still an agreement between the health authority and the government regarding the question of a mask requirement or even recommendation. The use of mouth and nose protection is not really effective, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell repeated his position on Tuesday, which is shared by the vast majority of his colleagues in Sweden.
Masks are effective in the hospital. If the population wears them in everyday life, their effect is “practically nonexistent”, said Kjell Torén, Professor of Public Health in an interview: “A mouthguard is a symbolic question.” Disposable masks that you wear for more than four hours or even for several days, could even increase the risk of infection.