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Sweden mulls U-turn on coronavirus restrictions

April 4, 2020

Sweden is one of the few European countries that has not yet put the country under some kind of lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19. The government had demanded emergency powers to change this.

People walk on a busy street in Stockholm despite the coronavirus
Image: Getty Images/AFP/TT News Agency/F. Sandberg

The Swedish government is seeking more powers to implement a lockdown or stronger restrictions on public life, Swedish media reported on Saturday. The move comes as more and more countries around the world implement lockdowns on public life to attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Radio Sweden International reports that the Scandinavian country's government initially sought the ability to introduce emergency measures, when required, without the approval of parliament. But after fierce opposition, ministers say they'll now wait for other parties' approval.

The opposition Moderate Party and the Left Party have demanded that they are allowed to examine and scrutinize any decisions the government makes under the emergency legislation. The government now hopes the new powers will be approved in the coming days.

The measures, which would last for three months, would allow ministers to stop public gatherings, close shops, entertainment venues and limit access to public transport.

Read moreCoronavirus: Sweden still skiing despite concerns

More restrictions introduced

Until now, Sweden has shied away from implementing a major lockdown on the same scale as other European countries. However, earlier in the week, the government did add some restrictions to public life through a series of guidelines.

The public was urged to avoid mass transit at busy hours and authorities requested stores to limit the number of people allowed in at any one time. Sports organizations have also been told to cancel upcoming matches and competitions.

A ban on gatherings of more than 50 people was previously put in place.

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Kommentarbild PROVISORISCH Elliot Douglas
Elliot Douglas Elliot Douglas is a video, audio and online journalist based in Berlin.