Sweden will ban public gatherings of more than eight people – including in bars and restaurants — as Covid-19 cases surge across the Nordic country that famously opted not to lock down during the first wave of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven urged fellow Swedes during a press conference Monday: “don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners, don’t host parties. Cancel.”
He said the pandemic has created a “new norm for the entire society.”
The new government restrictions do not include closing gyms or libraries but people are being urged to be cautious.
“We are living in a trying time — it will become worse — do your duty, take responsibility and stop the spread of the virus,” Lofven said.
The new rule limiting gatherings is expected to start on Nov. 24, pending approval from relevant government consultation bodies.
The restrictions will last for four weeks, although the government warned they could be extended over Christmas and New Year if the situation does not improve.
The latest official health data from this past Thursday shows that Sweden reported 4,519 new cases.
Infections and hospitalizations have risen sharply throughout the autumn. The cumulative 14-day infection rate is approximately 511 cases per 100,000 people, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Sweden has registered 177,355 cases and 6,164 deaths since the start of the pandemic.