The Swedish government has proposed a new bill that would allow the state to forcibly close businesses and shopping centres to stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
The new legislation would be temporary and would go into force on January 10th and last until September of next year. It would grant the Swedish Social Democrat-led government the power to close various businesses, shopping centres, public transport and more under the Pandemic Act under serious situations.
Swedish Minister for Economic Affairs Ibrahim Baylan announced the new proposal this week at a press conference alongside Minister for Social Affairs Lena Hallengren, Swedish broadcaster SVT reports.
— Rebecca Mansour (@RAMansour) April 20, 2020
“These are certain types of trading venues, such as malls and department stores where the risk of contagion is considered high and where there is a lot of congestion,” Baylan said.
Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said that businesses who defy shutdown orders will face fines, which are believed to be between 200 and 4,000 Swedish kronor or roughly £18/$24 to £359/$482.
“Since March, we have implemented a large number of support measures to mitigate the effects of this pandemic. We will continue to do so, regardless of the law,” Minister Baylan said.
While Sweden has made some restrictions during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the government has not put the country under lockdown, largely as the Swedish constitution does not allow strict lockdown measures to be imposed.
The new law would allow the government to implement stricter measures but still needs to be approved by the Swedish parliament.
While some, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), have praised Sweden for not locking down, others have been critical of the Swedish response to the pandemic.
In May, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki labelled Sweden’s response as “Darwinian” saying, “The world’s richest countries have started to choose which patients should receive care and which should not receive care. This is because of the lack of hospital beds, respirators, no proper equipment and no medical personnel. This so-called Swedish model, a Darwinian model, we have not even thought of introducing.”
Poland Labels Sweden's Coronavirus Policy 'Darwinian' https://t.co/INooihAjgI
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 16, 2020
During the first wave of the coronavirus, Sweden’s infection rate and the death rate was much higher than it’s Scandinavian neighbours who did implement lockdown measures.
In recent weeks, Sweden has seen another major wave of the virus, with December 19th breaking the countries daily infection records with 9,647 reported cases according to WHO statistics.