Scandinavia’s COVID-19 measures
Scandinavia’s COVID-19 measures
Before we dig deeper into Scandinavia’s COVID-19 measures, please observe that new information emerges, and further restrictions are continuously being added or changed. Every country has its strategies and measures when doing its best to overcome the virus. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark all have their ways of protecting their citizens and ensuring that the infection does not spread further. Therefore, in this blog post, we will take a closer look into each country’s measures to give you a better idea of what the situation looks like in Scandinavia at the moment (October 2020).
The Swedish response to the COVID-19 pandemic has diverged from the common European approach, avoiding the strict lockdown measures. According to the Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs, Lena Hallengren, the Swedish constitution does not allow the government to declare a state of emergency. Under the Swedish constitution, freedom of movement is a fundamental right, and limiting such rights requires a decision by the Swedish Parliament.
“Sweden is tackling the COVID-19 pandemic through both legally binding measures and recommendations. The government and the Swedish Public Health Agency have taken a number of decisions involving a wide range of new regulations and recommendations that affect the whole of society, including people’s private lives. There is no full lockdown in force, but many parts of Swedish society have shut down.” says Lena Hallengren.¹
The Swedish Government has presented budgets that contain a broad suite of measures in all sectors of the economy to protect people’s health, lives, and livelihoods. Measures adopted to limit the spread of coronavirus include compensation for the standard deduction for sick days and suspension of the medical certificate requirement during the sick pay period, among other things. Measures have also been adopted to support viable businesses, reduce the number of jobs lost, costs, reinforce liquidity, and improve businesses’ financing opportunities throughout Sweden. Read more about the economic measures here.
Restrictions of public gatherings
In March, the government decided that public gatherings and events with more than 50 participants should not currently be held. A few weeks ago, they agreed on an exemption from a maximum of 50 participants. The exemption means that restaurants affected by the temporary law on infection control measures in restaurants are not affected by the ban.²
Are you interested and want to know more about the Swedish strategy? In that case, you can watch this short video.
In Norway, face masks are mandatory for everyone using public transport in and around Oslo when a one-meter distance cannot be maintained. In the Oslo region, everyone able to work from home should do so. The assembly limit at public events is limited to 200 people but is reduced to a maximum of 50 where permanent seating isn’t available.³
The authorities are strongly recommending against all international travel unless necessary. They have categorized European countries as “red,” which means they experience an increasing level of infections. If you arrive from one of these “red” countries, you will have to stay in quarantine for ten days.⁴
From late October, the government confirmed an extended exception for citizens of any country who wish to visit close family members, partners, or grandparents of people in Norway. The Norwegian border closure remains in place for everyone else except for students and business travel.⁵
The government has also established some employer-related measures. Reduced financial liability for employers with laid-off employees and increased compensation to temporarily laid-off employees. The government reduced employer financial liability for COVID-19 related sick leave too.
Read more about employment and Economic stimulus measures here.
Last week, on October 23rd, the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced three new measures. The aim of them is stemming a concerning trend of increasing coronavirus cases. These three are mandatory face masks in all indoor public places, a ban on selling alcohol after 10 pm, and an assembly limit reduced to a maximum of 10 people. According to Mette Frederiksen, the first two will remain until the beginning of January next year. The last measure, the assembly limit, will remain in place for an initial four weeks from October 26th.
All previous restrictions that are already in place have also been extended until the beginning of January. Bars, restaurants, and cafes will still be required to close at 10 pm, and facemasks will remain mandatory on all public transport.⁶
The Danish state, employers, and unions have set up an agreement to secure wage compensation and maintain employment. The agreement means that the government will cover the cost of employees’ salaries at private companies. This, they will do, as long as they do not fire people. If a company says it has to either lay off 30% of its workers or fire at least 50 people, the state has agreed to take on 75% of workers’ salaries, up to $3,288 per month.
Except for the wage compensation, the country has also adopted a significant aid package. It includes loan guarantees, postponement of VAT and taxes, etc.⁷
Denmark has set up guidance on traveling by dividing countries into different colors (yellow, orange, green, and red). Depending on the color, there are specific recommendations from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Suggestions like COVID-19-tests and self-isolation after returning to Denmark, unless the returning traveler gets a negative COVID-19 test after returning to the country.⁸
If you want to read more about the colors, you can do so here. On this website, you can find revised guidelines on traveling to individual countries.
Conclusion of Scandinavia’s COVID-19 measures
To conclude, it’s a bit tricky talking about Scandinavia’s COVID-19 measures as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have different measures. Yet, the countries have one thing in common. Their purpose is to ensure that the infection does not spread further and protect people’s health, lives, and livelihoods. In every decision made, the citizens’ best is taken into account.
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