While the U.S. has closed much of America down, two Scandinavian nations, Sweden and Denmark, have taken radically different courses and kept their nations largely open. Americans are beginning to ask: is their way better?
In Sweden today restaurants, bars, and schools are operating. They never closed. The government has left it up to individual citizens to practice social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus.
From The Spectator of London, “Stefan Löfven, Sweden’s centre-left premier, has dismissed calls for a lockdown, saying ‘we can’t legislate and ban everything’. He’s no evangelist for libertarian principles, and may yet bring in harder measures. But so far he’s been saying that ‘we all, as individuals, have to take responsibility’ and not just wait for the government to lock us up.’ ”
Sweden’s death and infection rate is rising faster than Norway and Denmark, nations that cracked down harder on the virus. But it still is below many national averages. The Swedish premier may still enact a lockdown if the situation gets worse in the country.
Denmark enacted a virus lockdown, but not as hard as the U.S. program. The Danes are now considering reopening the country on Easter Sunday, the 12th of April. Many businesses in Denmark stayed open during the crisis.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said last Monday, “The situation we are in is far more complicated than appreciating human life. We cannot open a textbook — neither on healthcare nor economy — and find the right answer.”
She continued, “When we open our society again, we have to do it gradually and we have to make it staggered…For example, we may have to work, educate and attend school at different times of the day. We have to distribute beyond the hours of the day; we have to prevent rush hour in public transport, and when we go to work, it has to be in a different way than we are used to.” The Prime Minister is expected to announce on Monday her plan for an Easter reopening. But only if by Easter the national virus numbers remain stable.
Not all agree with her.
Fox News reports, “What we’ve done so far is very sensible, but I would have liked to see a development over a longer period before I dared to say that the curve is broken,” said Hans Jorn Kolmos, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Southern Denmark.
The debate has started in this country over whether government at all levels has been too severe in the response to the virus, specifically on economic lockdown policies. Many also want to know when the country will reopen. The experiences of the two nations above may provide guidance.