Sweden

  1. Video content

    Video caption: Covid-19: Is Sweden getting it right?

    The BBC's Ros Atkins looks at one country that has been an outlier from the start of the pandemic.

  2. What do Sweden's economic figures tell us?

    Maddy Savage

    BBC News, Stockholm

    New economic figures show that Sweden, which opted not to impose a strict lockdown, has been hit less hard by the pandemic than other EU nations.

    But it still recorded its worst results in decades.

    The authorities here have always said the country's approach wasn't designed to protect the economy. They stressed that the aim was to introduce sustainable, long-term measures.

    Even so, the government did hope that keeping more of society open would help limit job losses and mitigate the effect on businesses.

    The latest figures are a sign of just how vulnerable Sweden is to global economic shifts. Like other Scandinavian nations, it has a small, open, economy that is dependent on international trade.

    They also suggest that, while more of society remained open than in other parts of Europe, plenty of Swedes still chose to stay away from shops, restaurants and gyms.

    Recent opinion polls have suggested declining confidence in the minority government's handling of the pandemic. If the economy continues to worsen, there may be sharper national debates about the decision not to lockdown and the subsequent early high death toll.

    But given the rapid drop in daily recorded deaths since July, supporters of the controversial strategy are hopeful that the measures will help provide long-term stability.

  3. Sweden's economy hit less hard by virus

    Shoppers in Sweden
    Image caption: Sweden kept most businesses open at the height of the pandemic

    Sweden's approach to this pandemic has been much discussed as, unlike most European countries, it chose not to impose a strict lockdown early on.

    It largely kept businesses open and relied on voluntary social distancing guidelines to contain the virus.

    But Sweden has recorded one of the highest death rates relative to population size in Europe, and some health officials have said they now regret the initial approach.

    So did the decision not to lockdown shield their economy? To some extent, yes.

    New figures show the Swedish economy shrank 8.6% in the April-to-June period from the previous three months - better than many other EU nations.

    But it still recorded its largest quarterly fall in decades. And various forecasts predict its economy will still shrink by about 5% this year, which is similar to the rest of Scandinavia.

    "It is, as expected, a dramatic downturn. But compared to other countries, it is considerably better, for instance if you compare to southern Europe," said Nordea bank chief analyst Torbjorn Isaksson.

    Spain, for example, saw an 18.5% contraction in the same period, while the French and Italian economies shrank by 13.8% and 12.4% respectively.

  4. Sweden's 'Knights of Covid' warn tourists to social distance

    Video content

    Video caption: "That's what knights do - we help people and our country in distress."

    "That's what knights do - we help people and our country in distress, so of course we took this job."

  5. Sweden tightens social distancing in bars

    Maddy Savage

    BBC News, Stockholm

    New regulations requiring pubs, bars and restaurants to ensure there’s at least a metre between separate groups of customers have come into force in Sweden.

    Earlier official regulations from the Swedish Public Health agency did not state a specific measurement, although venues were asked to encourage social distancing and avoid overcrowding. Other regulations introduced in March remain in place, including offering table service only and providing hand-washing facilities.

    Sweden's authorities have been criticised for giving inconsistent advice on social distancing. Some venues are already following separate advice from public healthcare information service 1177, which has run a “two-metre rule” campaign, while others have been accused of not doing enough to keep customers apart.

    From Tuesday, local authorities now have the right to close venues that don’t stick to the new one-metre guidelines.

    Previously, environmental health inspectors had been carrying out checks in major cities. They asked around 40 venues to shut down temporarily due to concerns about overcrowding and other risks for the spread of infection.

    A woman wearing a face mask stands at a bus stop in Stockholm featuring a sign reminding passengers to maintain a minimum social distance between each other to reduce the risk of infection (June 2020)