SLIPERIET – The national and local governments today implemented a long list of rules, in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus, ranging from closing Umeå’s public libraries to recommending, for the first time, face masks in crowded places.
“The number of cases continues to rise in Sweden of Covid-19,” the disease caused by the virus, the Swedish Public Health Agency said yesterday. “Therefore, further measures are now being taken for Sweden to get out of this serious situation more rapidly.”
The new rules, which apply at least until January 24, are:
- Retail stores should not hold their traditional holiday sales, in order to reduce the number of shoppers.
- Stores, shopping centers, and gyms are required to limit sharply the number of people inside their premises at one time. The exact number will be set by the specific business. Businesses which do not comply can be shut down by the government.
- Upper secondary schools should hold only distance education.
- The maximum number of people who may sit at the same table in a restaurant is now four.
- Alcohol service in restaurants and pubs must stop at 8 PM.
- Employers must urge their staff to work from home if at all possible, and everyone who can work from home must do so.
- It is now recommended that in places like public transportation, where crowded conditions cannot be avoided, that people wear face masks.
- Public venues such as swimming pools, libraries, museums, and pre-schools should close.
In the wake of yesterday’s new rules, the City of Umeå announced that starting today, all public libraries would be closed. They are deferring late fees so that patrons do not need to pay a fine for items returned up to a week past their due date. The libraries are also making it possible to pick up books at entrances, and deliver books to the homes of people who belong to some risk groups. Umeå’s city library said that it will announce more detailed new rules this coming Monday.
On the question of face masks, the government has been emphasizing that it believes that they are not a substitute for social distancing. “The most important and effective way to prevent the spread of infection is to stay apart from other people,” said Johan Carlson, the director of the national public health agency. “But in situations where this is not possible, face masks can play a role.”
Västerbotten officials announced three more deaths due to the virus yesterday, bringing the total to 67 in the region and 36 during this current second wave of the virus. 32 people are in the hospital with Covid-19, six of them in intensive care. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Västerbotten is now almost 7000, with 39% of them in Umeå.