STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – The Swedish government said on Wednesday that it would reduce opening hours for all restaurants, bars and cafes and tighten the limits on the number allowed in stores when it tries to avert a third wave of COVID -19 pandemic.
The government said it would propose that restaurants and cafes would need to close at 8:30 p.m.
It also said that the number of people allowed in shops and shopping centers would be further limited and that it would provide further details on this measure shortly.
– The situation in Sweden is serious, we have a high spread of infection and it is increasing, says Prime Minister Stefan Lofven at a press conference. “We can avoid a third wave if we keep our distance.”
It was also stated that all sports competitions below the elite level and for children born before 2006 would be suspended indefinitely.
Concerns about a possible third wave of the pandemic have increased in Sweden in recent weeks as the number of new infections has increased, even though deaths have decreased significantly.
Sweden registered 5,371 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since the beginning of January. On Tuesday, the Health Agency warned the British variant, which is believed to be more infectious, to gradually take over as the dominant one in Sweden.[nL8N2KT4MA}[nL8N2KT4MA}[nL8N2KT4MA}[nL8N2KT4MA}
Several of Sweden’s largest regions have also tightened their recommendations for the use of masks in shops, workplaces and public transport. On Wednesday, the Swedish parliament called on all people in the building to wear masks, for the first time during the pandemic such a recommendation was issued.
This is contrary to the previous reluctance of the health authority to broadly support such features due to limited evidence of their effectiveness.
The center-left government has gradually tightened restrictions since the end of last year after keeping most schools, restaurants and businesses open through the pandemic and relying primarily on voluntary action.
Sweden, a country with 10 million people, has registered 12,793 deaths from covid-19. Per capita mortality is much higher than its Nordic neighbors but lower than in several European countries that chose lockdowns.
Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by Niklas Pollard and Jonathan Oatis