Photos of crowded cafés and parks show what life is like in Sweden, one of the only European countries not under strict lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak

  • Sweden has banned public gatherings of 50 or more people and closed high schools and universities to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but for the most part its residents are free to go about their normal lives.
  • While Swedes are still out and about, residents of France and Italy are subject to fines and jail time if they leave their homes for an unapproved reason under the countries’ respective lockdown measures.
  • The World Health Organisation is critical of Sweden’s approach, but the country’s chief epidemiologist maintains that this guidelines-based approach will be “much more sustainable” than that of other countries over time.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


Over the past several weeks, life in Sweden has maintained some semblance of normality while most other European countries remain under lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak.

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People enjoy the sunny weather on Easter Eve in Stockholm on April 11, 2020.
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Anders Wiklund/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Associated Press, Business Insider, Wired


The country has closed high schools and universities, banned public gatherings of 50 or more people, restricted nursing home visitations, and urged at-risk people to self-isolate at home, but Swedes are otherwise free to go about their routines while observing social distancing.

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People train at an outdoor gym amid the spread of the coronavirus disease on the outskirts of Stockholm on April 6, 2020.
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Erik Simander/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


“The only way to manage this crisis is to face it as a society, with everyone taking responsibility for themselves, for each other and for our country,” the prime minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, said in an address to the nation on March 22.

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People enjoy the sun as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in Malmo on April 5, 2020.
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Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Government Offices of Sweden


Parks remain open to residents looking to enjoy the spring weather.

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People visit a park in Stockholm on April 4, 2020.
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Andres Kudacki/AP Photo

Source: Business Insider


Bars, cafés, and restaurants serve seated customers.

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People chat and drink outside a bar in Stockholm on April 8, 2020.
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Associated Press

Source: Business Insider


And most shops and malls remain open.

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People walk beneath store banners in Stockholm on April 4, 2020.
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Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


Even hair salons, whose services rely on close physical contact, are accepting customers.

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A hair stylist works inside her shop in Stockholm on April 8, 2020.
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Andres Kudack/AP Photo

Source: Business Insider


The Swedish Health Agency has also kept kindergarten and primary schools open. According to a report by the World Health Organisation released in February, children under the age of 18 represented only 2.4% of reported coronavirus cases in Wuhan, China.

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Young people socialise in Stockholm on April 4, 2020.
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Andres Kudacki/AP Photo

Source: World Health Organisation, Reuters


While experts have since posited that mild symptoms could be causing infected children to pass under the radar, the Swedish Health Agency believes that young children are not transmitting the disease at a high rate and that closing schools could keep much-needed healthcare workers home.

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Youth hang out outside a restaurant in Stockholm on April 8, 2020.
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Andres Kudacki/AP Photo

Source: Washington Post, CNBC, Reuters


Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist and head of the Swedish Health Agency, calls his country’s coronavirus response “low-scale” and predicts that it will be “much more sustainable” over time than that of other European countries.

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A restaurant in Stockholm on April 4, 2020.
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Andres Kudacki/AP Photo

Source: Associated Press


Compared to the responses of neighbouring countries, Sweden’s approach to the coronavirus outbreak is lax. Norway, Denmark, and Finland all closed down schools, restaurants, and bars last month, though Norway and Denmark are beginning to ease restrictions.

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A young volunteer wearing gloves offers hand sanitizer during an information campaign about the coronavirus in the Tensta suburb of Stockholm on April 12, 2020.
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Ali Lorestani/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Business Insider, Government of Norway, Danish Police, Reuters


Following the news that coronavirus-related deaths in Sweden surpassed 1,000 on April 14 — making the country’s fatality rate 10 times as high as Finland’s, four times as high as Norway’s, and twice as high as Denmark’s, Bloomberg calculated — 22 Swedish academics penned a letter to a Stockholm newspaper calling upon the government to radically change its approach.

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A general view of a field hospital being prepared at the Ostra Sjukhuset hospital area in Gothenburg on March 24, 2020.
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Adam Ihse/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Bloomberg


The World Health Organisation has also urged Sweden to take stricter actions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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A volunteer prepares a food boxes to be distributed to people isolated because of the coronavirus at City Mission in Stockholm on April 7, 2020.
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Ali Lorestani/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: CNN


Despite criticism, Tengell believes an increase in infections in the short term will avoid the possibility of a wave of new infections that could happen if the country imposed, then lifted, strict lockdown measures, he told the Associated Press.

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Gudrun Rosnes, an employee at Stockholm City Theatre, makes personal protective equipment for hospital and care homes on April 8, 2020.
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Jessica Gow/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Associated Press


In an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz published last week, Tengell cited Swedish culture and traditions as the guiding principle behind Sweden’s coronavirus response.

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People walk past an outdoor restaurant on Strandvagen street in Stockholm on March 27, 2020.
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Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Hareetz


“We prefer voluntary measures, and there is a high level of trust here between the population and the authorities, so we are able to avoid coercive restrictions,” he said.

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A woman photographs under a blooming cherry tree in Kungstradgarden park in Stockholm on March 27, 2020.
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Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency/Reuters

Source: Hareetz


Will the strategy work for Sweden? Only time will tell, according to Lars Ostergaard, chief consultant and professor at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. “There is no right or wrong way,” he told the Associated Press. “No one has walked this path before, and only the aftermath will show who made the best decision.”

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A sign outside a pub in Stockholm assures people that the bar is open during the coronavirus outbreak on March 26, 2020.
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Colm Fulton/Reuters

Source: Associated Press