Sweden’s exemption from Nordic travel location, Sweden’s foreign minister

Sweden's exclusion from Nordic travel area, Sweden's foreign minister

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People play chess at a park in Stockholm on May 29, 2020, in the middle of the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.


The choice to leave out Sweden from the lifting of travel limitations in between Nordic nations Finland, Denmark and Norway, following the coronavirus pandemic, “has created wounds that will take time to heal,” the nation’s foreign minister informed CNBC.

A choice not to carry out a stringent lockdown like its next-door neighbors has actually indicated that Sweden, which has actually seen a far greater variety of coronavirus cases and deaths, has actually been excluded of an easing of travel limitations in between the nations.

Since Monday, people of Nordic countries can mainly take a trip to and from each other’s nations for work and leisure functions, however Swedes are still based on limitations due to a greater infection rate in their nation.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde informed CNBC Tuesday that she had “mixed feelings” about the Nordics’ mindset towards Sweden at the minute, which the transfer to omit her nation might harm relations.

“On the one hand we have had an absolutely fantastic cooperation with the Nordic countries when it comes to the repatriation of our citizens … Sweden took home 8,600 Swedes from all over the world with the help of our Nordic friends and we also took 1,500 non-Swedes with our flights, so this has been a fantastic Nordic cooperation,” she stated.

“But on the other hand … I think that those people that have been very used to working as if there were no borders, have been given a very clear wake-up call that different nations (are being treated differently) and I think this will, in many people, create wounds that could be difficult to heal.”

“I’m not generally worried about the future of Nordic relations, I am genuinely worried that this has created wounds that will take time to heal, especially in the border area,” she stated. Linde thought that stress “will heal” which the federal government would do whatever it can to assist, “but it might take a long time.”

No lockdown

The nation of around 10 million individuals went versus the grain in Europe, and much of the world, by not enforcing a stringent lockdown on public life when the coronavirus pandemic emerged in late February and early March.

Instead of shuttering all however vital companies such as food stores and drug stores, like many European nations, Sweden’s federal government enabled bars, dining establishments and schools for under 16-year-olds to stay open. It did restriction mass events and sees to senior care houses, which have actually seen intense break outs of the infection, and promoted social distancing, working from house and great individual health. 

Defending Sweden’s technique to the infection, Linde stated the goal of Sweden had actually been the very same as its next-door neighbors: “To save lives and health and to keep the health system able to manage the pressure of the coronavirus, to mitigate the effects on business and work and doing this by a mixture of legally-binding measures and recommendations.”

“In two areas we can see where we have been most different from others. And that is that we have kept our schools open up to the ninth grade, up to 16 years of age, and we have not had a lockdown, meaning that people have to stay at home,” she stated.

“But we have been very, very clear on keeping social distancing, hand hygiene, not traveling, not going more than two hours from your home, not going on public transport and also to work at home if possible, and we have made it economically possible for people to stay at home even with the slightest, slightest symptoms. And we can now see that more than 80% of people are still following those recommendations,” she stated.

Nonetheless, the figures paint a sober photo of Sweden’s experience of the pandemic, compared to its next-door neighbors. Sweden has actually taped 52,323 cases of the coronavirus and 4,939 deaths while Finland, Norway and Denmark (which all have actually populations around half the size of Sweden’s) have seen far less cases and deaths. Denmark, for instance, has actually reported 12,450 cases and 598 deaths and the other 2 next-door neighbors even less cases and deaths.

Linde stated it was still prematurely to state whether Sweden’s method might have been much better, which there were subtleties to the break out seen in the nation, compared to other countries.

“The week the virus broke out was Spring Break in Sweden and we had so many more international travelers, more than a million, coming to Stockholm from all over the world. We only detected, at that time, Italian and Austrian travelers and we followed them up by testing them. But now, later on when we know more about the virus, we could see that it was the virus coming from the United States, U.K., Belgium and other countries where we did not do this testing and tracing,” she stated.

Virus does not stop at borders

As nations around Europe are raising a growing number of limitations on public life, Sweden too is seeing its variety of day-to-day infections continue to decrease.

The nation’s Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell informed CNBC Tuesday that the scenario is enhancing daily.  “If you look at the number of people being admitted to hospital, the number of people admitted to ICUs (intensive care units) and mortalities, all of these figures are either going down or at a plateau. So the epidemic continues but basically, it’s very much on a plateau.”

Linde stated she routinely talks to her equivalents in Denmark, Norway and Finland regularly which she hoped limitations would quickly be raised, especially after the EU had actually currently advised that member states raise all internal travel limitations from June 15, and enable non-essential travel into the EU beginning with July 1.

People rest on balcony tables at coffee shop in Stockholm, Sweden, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Sweden is beginning to appear like an international outlier in its action to the coronavirus.


Tegnell stated that more conversation and understanding was required around the infection, keeping in mind that it’s required to take a look at other aspects — such as at the quantity of screening being done, the scenario in ICUs and local distinctions in infection rates — to determine the dangers postured by specific nations, instead of simply taking a look at the day-to-day rate of brand-new infections. 

“It’s not a disease that we stop anywhere by closing borders, keeping borders open is very important for many reasons,” he stated.

“There can be economic and also social consequences — families being split up, consequences for health in the long run because the economy gets worse. So many things happen when you close borders, and the whole concept of the European Union is very much about keeping borders open and that has been such a success.”

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