STOCKHOLM, July 12 (Reuters) – The Swedish government said on Monday that it will proceed with a planned easing of pandemic restrictions this week, but warned that new variants of the virus required vigilance because it urged people to follow recommendations on social distancing.
Sweden has mainly relied on voluntary measures to stop the spread of infections, although restrictions on opening hours for restaurants and restrictions on crowds in places such as shopping centers have also been implemented.
Some restrictions have already been lifted and the country will remove limits on the number of passengers on long-distance transport such as trains and the number of shoppers allowed in shops on 15 July.
– It is going in the right direction in our country, says Minister of Trade and Industry Ibrahim Baylan to a press conference. “Step by step, we are moving towards a society without limits.”
After a third wave in the spring, the frequency of infections has fallen sharply throughout Sweden, which has led to pressure on hospitals, in a development that is mainly attributed to increasing vaccinations and warmer summer weather that does not contribute to infections.
A series of restrictions were eased on July 1 and further steps are planned later this year, due to the pandemic. At the same time, the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe has caused concern.
Just over two thirds of Sweden’s adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine and the comprehensive coverage rate has risen steadily to 50%.
Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Steve Orlofsky
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