STOCKHOLM, May 27 (Reuters) – Sweden will ease some of its COVID -19 restrictions from June 1, as new cases have fallen sharply in recent weeks, the government said on Thursday when it presented a roadmap to open society.
Sweden has been a violator in the fight against the pandemic and has chosen to lock itself in completely, instead relying on mostly voluntary measures. It has been hit by a serious third wave of the virus, but new cases and the number of people admitted to intensive care are declining rapidly.
“We are beginning to glimpse the beginning of the end,” said Prime Minister Lofven at a news conference.
The previously announced relief includes longer opening hours for restaurants and cafes, as well as increasing the number of spectators at sporting events and visitors to museums and amusement parks.
– We are now seeing a sharp reduction in the spread of infection in almost all of Sweden, says the head of the Swedish Health Service, Johan Carlson. “These are reductions of 30-40 percent in the last week. It is very close to what we presented in our most optimistic scenario a month ago,” he said.
The remaining rules and recommendations will be eased in five steps with the goal that all will be phased out in September. The voluntary guidelines include asking citizens to work from home, wearing masks in certain situations and keeping social interactions as low as possible.
Binding rules have included restrictions on the restaurant’s opening hours, limited numbers of people in shops and malls and effectively closed museums, public pools and amusement parks.
Sweden registered 1,366 new covid-19 cases on Thursday, health statistics showed, the lowest number of new daily cases in more than seven months, even though the agency said the figures could be revised due to a technical error.
The country has administered 4.9 million vaccine shots, of which 44.3% of the adult population has received a dose. About 15.7% are fully vaccinated.
Fifteen new deaths were recorded, giving a total of 14,451 out of a population of 10 million. The registered deaths have occurred for several days and sometimes weeks.
Sweden has had among the highest number of cases per capita in recent months, but the number of deaths from the pandemic this year has been in the lower part of the scale in Europe.
The total death toll during the pandemic has been higher than in other Nordic countries but lower than in most European countries that chose lockdowns.
Reporting by Johan Ahlander, editing by Helena Soderpalm
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