Sunday 3/7/21
PANDEMIC

Sweden prepares tougher moves amid fears of third coronavirus wave

Local authorities could also ban access to venues where crowding could occur, like public parks.

26 January 2021, Finland, Espoo: A syringe lies next to a vial of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre. Photo: Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/dpa
A syringe lies next to a vial of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. Photo: Jussi Nukari/dpa/file photo.

Sweden's government on Wednesday presented several proposals that would allow the temporary closure of shopping centres, gyms and other venues amid fears of a possible third wave of infections in the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposals were in line with temporarily enhanced powers the government has secured, and deemed necessary to have in place should a third wave hit.

The government cited concerns over the spread of more transmissible virus strains. 

"We are worried about the situation. It is uncertain how it will develop, and there is a risk for a third wave," Health and Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren told a press conference.

The new proposals would comprise shopping or service venues where social distancing was difficult, including hair salons, gyms and swimming centres, and restaurants.

Local authorities could also ban access to venues where crowding could occur, like public parks.

The government hoped the proposals would be in place by March 11, following review.

Ban on alcohol sales

Sweden recently prolonged a ban on alcohol sales from 8 pm until the end of February.

Another recent measure was to limit travel companies from selling more than half of the available seats on bus and train trips longer than 150 kilometres. 

Sweden has gradually tightened its measures. Public gatherings are capped at eight people.

Culture Minister Amanda Lind, meanwhile, said efforts to introduce more flexible rules taking into account the size of a venue were under review for sports and cultural events. Museums, for instance, could operate with rules similar to that of stores where each shopper is allocated at least 10 square metres.

As of Tuesday, the country of 10.3 million had recorded roughly 617,000 infections and 12,487 coronavirus-related deaths.

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