Unlike many other European countries have, Sweden is directing its efforts towards educating the public on how to reduce the spread of the deadly disease. Most schools and pre-schools are open as normal and healthy students are still legally required to attend their lessons.
Many businesses are still open as usual, but much of the Nordic country’s economic activity has come to a standstill.
Writing for the Telegraph, Iranian-Swedish author Nima Sanandaji said: “The advice of Swedish governmental agencies has been largely followed by the population, reducing the need for strict bans. This can explain why Sweden has been slower than other European nations to introduce bans on public meetings.”
On March 12 the Swedish government put in place a ban for events of over 500 people.
Although most people stuck to the government’s advice, a after-ski events angered the authorities by allowing up to 499 at a time.
On March 27 events of 50 or more people we also banned, rule that applies for most events and graduation ceremonies, except school and pre-school ones.
“The Swedish strategy involves keeping schools open for as long as possible, so that parents are not forced to stay home and thereby bring the economy to a standstill,” said Sanandaji.
The death toll in Sweden went up from 3 on March 15, to 21 on March 11, to 110 on March 29.
Tests are focused on patients and risk groups, so the number of people who have contracted the disease is not known with accuracy.
During March 36,800 people’s employments were terminated in Sweden.
This figure exceeds the 22 200 jobs lost during November 1992, amidst the great Swedish crisis.
On the change in economic direction Sanandaji said: “ After the crises in the 1990s, Sweden went through three decades of reform, focused on increasing business freedom and reducing state involvement in the economy. During the latest weeks however, policies have again shifted towards state control.”
“Swedish businesses are doing their bit to help during the crisis. H&M is manufacturing protective wear, initially planned for donation rather than sales.
“A local IKEA store in the rural municipality of Kållered donated 50,000 breathing masks to a public hospital.
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“At the same time, the government’s tone towards business has changed markedly during the crises.”
Per Bolund, Minister for Financial Markets, has criticised Volvo for planned dividends paid to stockowners.
According to Social Democratic think tank Arena Idé, the government could use the stimulus to purchase up ownership share of private enterprises, although the idea was criticised by chief economist, Sandro Scocco, who said stimulus policy would be to “donate money to the companies”.
The leader of the left party claimed that private firms operations must be taken over by the public sector.
“The socialist economic policies that Sweden has spent three decades moving away from, are making a surprising comeback during the epidemic,” said Sanandaji.
“These new economic policies would not have surfaced a few weeks ago, before the Covid-19 epidemic.”
The current government of Sweden is conformed by Social Democrats and the Green Party, and is based on the January agreement of 2019.
This agreement, signed jointly with the Liberals and the Center Party, states that the government is to seek tax cuts, boost business freedom and put an end to criticism of private health care.
“Suddenly, with the Covid-19 crises, economic policies in Sweden have shifted significantly towards state control.
“It remains to be seen how far this shift will be, and how it impacts on the nation’s ability to recover from the crisis,” said Sanandaji.
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