Sunday, March 7, 2021
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Reindeer meat for sale in Umeå specialty foods store DUÅ in Väven this afternoon. -Umeå Today

Sami Economy Hit Hard by Coronavirus Crisis

• Demand for reindeer meat plunges as Sami leaders look for assistance • New coronavirus death in Västerbotten • Umeå Hospital announces pandemic rules for visitors at childbirth and in maternity ward • City food trucks now enforcing social distancing for queuing customers • Swedish Radio plans to stage “virtual Valborg” with a giant online choir
  • Demand for reindeer meat plunges as Sami leaders look for assistance
  • New coronavirus death in Västerbotten
  • Umeå Hospital announces pandemic rules for visitors at childbirth and in maternity ward
  • City food trucks now enforcing social distancing for queuing customers
  • Swedish Radio plans to stage “virtual Valborg” with a giant online choir

ÅLIDHEM – Sami leaders said today that they may have to apply for government assistance, because demand for reindeer meat has plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic. Since many restaurants have lost customers, and music festivals and other events have been cancelled, reindeer meat is stockpiling in Sami freezers, according to Sveriges Radio. Reindeer meat is one of the staples of the local Sami economy and is normally widely-consumed in Umeå.

“This is a catastrophe,” said Patick Lundgren, president of a the Sami village of Östra Kikkejaure, “above all for the reindeer herding industry.” Reindeer herding rights belong to the Sami people in the north of Sweden. Herders have raised concerns that the blocking of free movement borders between Sweden, Norway, and Finland during the crisis could affect their ability to move reindeer from pasture to pasture.

DUÅ co-owner Per Åkerlund with reindeer meat this afternoon. -Umeå Today

Earlier this month, the Sami Parliament said it was cancelling its May meeting because of the coronavirus. In February, reindeer were found tortured after a Swedish supreme court ruling in favor of Sami hunting and fishing rights in the mountain village of Girjas.

Västerbotten officials announced a new death today from coronavirus in the region, bringing the total to 14. As with the most recent three deaths, the officials stopped giving public information about where the death occurred or details about the patient’s age and health status. 296 people now have tested positive for coronavirus in Västerbotten — four more than yesterday — with 20 in the hospital and 13 in intensive care, according to the officials.

Umeå University Hospital released new rules today about who can accompany women during and after childbirth as the pandemic hits the city. Partners and loved ones are allowed to be present at childbirth, if they do not have symptoms of a cold, such as cough, fever, or soreness in the throat. The maternity ward, where mothers are sent for post-partum observation, as well as the neonatal unit for infants, are off-limits to all visitors.

The city of Umeå today announced exactly how social services workers in care homes are taking hygiene precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus at work. “Staff should wear a short-sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, and a protective apron” during clinical practice such as helping to bathe clients. If clients have symptoms of coronavirus, then the region of Västerbotten decides whether or not they should be tested. If an infection is confirmed, then doctors may attempt to trace from whom the patient contracted the virus.

The city said that it has enough protective equipment for now — but is preparing for increased need. “The situation can change quickly”, said Pernilla Henriksson, who directs elderly care in the city, “so we are actively working to build a stock of equipment as much as possible.”

Home care workers, as well as their clients and clients’ families, have expressed concern about the virus spreading, particularly in nursing homes, since a case of coronavirus was found in an Umeå nursing home three weeks ago.

Outdoor food trucks in Umeå are now putting markings on the ground in front of them, in order to make sure that people queuing keep recommended distance from one another to prevent spread of the virus. Umeå Today reader Lacey Okonski sent a picture of an Italian food truck, with the markings chalked on the stones of Renmarkstorget.

Markings on the ground indicate exactly where people should stand in line at an Italian food truck on Renmarkstorget. -L. Okonski

The city said today that during health inspections on Friday and Saturday night, they did not find crowding among patrons that breaks social distancing guidelines, causing celebration among restaurant owners. The city did say that it has received a number of complaints about overcrowding, and it will continue to conduct checks of restaurants.

This coming Thursday is Valborg, the festival traditionally marking the end of winter with bonfires, public gatherings and singing. However, Umeå will not have a public bonfire this year due to restrictions on public gatherings over 50 people. Peter Sedlacek, who is responsible for organizing some of the city’s Valborg festivities felt “heavy-hearted” about the cancellation, which is the first in his memory, as he told SVT. Normally, the Umeå Student Union also hosts a Valborg bonfire, but this is cancelled this year as well.

There are digital alternatives to create a sense of Valborg community. “We need to do something. We cannot let Valborg arrive and not allow anyone to sing in the spring,” said Pernilla Eskilsdotter of Sweden’s Radio P2. Therefore, P2 is inviting listeners to submit their own recordings of the classic Valborg song “Längtan till landet” or “Yearning for the Country” (more popularly known as “Vintern rasat” or “The Winter has Melted”):

The song from the 1800s is a national romantic depiction of melting snows and the joyous approach of summer. All the recordings will be assembled to great one the impression of one enormous choir, P2 says.

Another Umeå bus company today said that it is going to require passengers to enter and exit through the rear door. Transdev, which services routes to and from Vännäs, Nordmaling, and Vindeln, said it will be collecting tickets outside the bus. Local and regional bus companies such as Lanstrafik and Göstas have already implemented similar rules on their lines.

Virginia Langum contributed to the writing of this article.

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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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