Wednesday, December 2, 2020
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A sign at Umeå city library appealing to visitors to observe hygiene rules

Citygoers Overlook Coronavirus Warnings As Umeå Infection Curve Flattens; New Bus Rules Take Effect Tomorrow

• Apparently symptomatic people and seniors gather in public places in city center • Two days pass with no new confirmed infections in Västerbotten • City buses adopt new coronavirus protection measures • Vandalism rises in city center as pedestrian traffic decreases
  • Apparently symptomatic people and seniors gather in public places in city center
  • Two days pass with no new confirmed infections in Västerbotten
  • City buses adopt new coronavirus protection measures
  • Vandalism rises in city center as pedestrian traffic decreases

CENTRUM – People in Umeå’s city center on Sunday seemingly ignored national and local recommendations on how to behave to stop the spread of coronavirus. During a 20 minute visit to the city library, Umeå Today witnessed at least two patrons coughing into computer terminals, one very strongly. This was despite a warning posted at the library entrance asking visitors not to enter if they had “a cold or flu-like symptoms”.

Asked about what measures the library was taking to protect against coronavirus, staff told Umeå Today that they had “a long list of regulations.” When it was pointed out that some patrons were coughing into computer terminals, staff responded that “we cannot require them to leave. Everyone has to take responsibility.”

Furthermore, people who appeared to be in at-risk groups were gathered this afternoon, sometimes in groups of five or more, in restaurants and other establishments in the city center. At about four o’clock, the windows of The Bishop’s Arms and McDonald’s restaurant, and Espresso House cafe, were filled with customers, some of whom looked as if they might be over the age of 70. Sweden’s health authority has recommended that persons over 70 should “avoid places with many people, for example, businesses or public transit.”

Customers fill the windows of The Bishop’s Arms restaurant this afternoon. –Umeå Today

Visit Umeå, the tourist bureau, appealed on its website to people staying at home to support their “favorite local taverns” and order takeaway from them.

Other aspects of life appeared unchanged in Umeå center. Dozens of people were swimming at the local pool, Navet; families with children rode side-by-side together on public transit; and groups of young adults stood around and chatted at the Vasaplan bus stop. A scrap of paper had been attached to the wooden bus shelter which read, “Come to Rouge/Best dance floor!” It referred, presumably, to the Ålidhem night club Rouge, which still has events for next weekend listed as “upcoming” on its Facebook page. Rouge put out a message on Instagram some 10 days ago saying that “in accordance with Sweden’s Public Health Agency’s directive, the maximum number of people in our establishment will drop to 500”.

A scrap of paper calling on readers to visit Rouge, attached to the Vasaplan bus stop. –Umeå Today

Despite all this activity, there were noticeably fewer pedestrians in the center compared to a typical Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Västerbotten’s infection curve has “flattened” over the past couple of days, as no new coronavirus cases were identified by health officials since Friday, and the total remained at 29.

Local health officials, however, continue to build up resources to combat any upcoming worsening of the coronavirus pandemic in Umeå. The Red Cross has for volunteers to deliver food to seniors and others at-risk for a severe reaction to the infection. that the plan is being carried out in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and volunteer organizations.

University medical school Dean Patrik Danielson sent a letter to the faculty, staff, and students thanking them for their work over the past week, saying that clinical teachers have been putting in extra effort in the wards, and “more of that is to come”.

Umeå’s public transit operator, Lanstrafik, has upgraded former “recommendations” to “rules”, to go into effect tomorrow. These include:

  • passengers will not board the bus at the front, but rather at the center
  • ticket purchases will not be allowed on board buses, except for business tickets
  • luggage used for shopping will not be permitted on buses
  • tickets must be purchased in advance on the Ultra app or website

The bus company continues to recommend that passengers exit in the rear, not the front, and avoid sitting in the front row seats and spread out far apart, if possible.

Earlier this week, Västerbottens-Kuriren reported that Lanstrafik will reduce service by 30%, switching to a summer schedule on March 30.

Vandalism appears to be on the increase in the city as more people remain at home due to coronavirus. A high number of new klotter (graffiti tags) were seen downtown today, including on protected historic buildings, such as the Gymnastikhus next to Vasaplan. Umeå Today will have more reporting on Umeå vandalism during coronavirus in the coming week.

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The seriousness of the coronavirus crisis has again become a topic that requires news coverage for everyone in Umeå, whether or not they speak Swedish. Umeå Today has, therefore, returned to its original mission of covering the crisis, and you can find updated information here on our webpage. Meanwhile, Umeå Today is planning to launch its 2.0 products, including The Umeå Handbook and Umeå Sunday, a weekly multimedia newscast, in early 2021. In addition to covering the crisis, we will be blogging here about the development of Umeå Today 2.0.

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