A demonstration outside a Swedish Migration Board facility in the city of Gothenburg this week violated government restrictions on gatherings of crowds meant to halt the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The protest, which saw around 85 people gathered outside the Migration Board facility, was to support stateless Palestinian migrants who have neither been given a Swedish residency permit nor been deported from the country.
The event comes after the Swedish government had put in place new measures to combat the Wuhan coronavirus, including the banning of gatherings of more than 50 people, broadcaster SVT reports.
Christer Fuxborg, press officer at the west region police, commented on the protests saying that many of the demonstrators may not have known that gathering in large groups was now against the law and said officers informed them to disperse with a warning.
“We asked people to leave. They must not be in groups of more than 50, so we make sure they understand that and then they can talk together and figure out what they should do,” Fuxborg said.
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“You try to solve this as diplomatically as possible. We want to avoid grabbing people and dragging them away, so in the first instance, we inform about what applies, and then they have to take a stand on it,” he said.
In Sweden, outdoor cafes still operate with customers even being served at tables in restaurants, and some schools remain open. While Swedes can gather in groups of up to 50, in the United Kingdom the maximum public gathering is two individuals.
So far, Sweden has not seen the same level of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths as countries like Italy or Spain. However, authorities have still begun preparations for if and when the Swedish healthcare system will be overrun due to the outbreak.
Dr Thomas Lindén, of Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, said that in the event of a lack of resources, medical needs would be prioritised over other factors such as citizenship. The guidelines mean that illegal migrants may be given priority over elderly Swedes who are less likely to survive a severe case of the virus.