- Police will “cancel or break up” publicized parties of more than 50 people
- Student Union live-streams local bands in virtual Valborg celebration
- Umeå Student Choir performs video Valborg concert with 15 singers in different locations
- Umeå Left Party plans tomorrow’s May Day celebrations inside World of Warcraft video game
- Västerbotten virus infection count increases by 19 to 322
ÅLIDHEM – Umeå Police said this afternoon that they have seen invitations, circulating on social media, to parties this evening celebrating Walpurgis Night — Valborg, in Swedish — and that if these invitations exceed 50 people, the organizers are violating the law. Attempts to put together a large public event are prohibited because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.
“When a party is posted on social media,” the police wrote on Facebook, “it may mean that it counts as a public event. Organizers need to seek permission from the police department in advance, or they may be suspected of a violation of public order.”
The police said that they have the right to cancel or break up the party if it seems that 50 or more people might gather. Under a law enacted at the end of March, public gatherings of that size are illegal. Violators can be fined, or imprisoned up to six months.
The city of Umeå stood behind the message from the police this afternoon. Umeå’s highest-ranking government official, Municipal Executive Committee Chair Hans Lindberg, said in a video message that “during Valborg celebrations, it is particularly important that we take care of one another. Follow the recommendations of national health authorities.”
Valborg is traditionally celebrated with bonfires, and marks the arrival of spring. Because of the prohibition on large gatherings this year, many smaller celebrations are expected to take place, which could be “historic”, according to one Umeå Today reader, who wrote: “Thousands of families making small fires to keep the tradition of Valborg alive in times of crisis. Worth documenting.”
The weekend before last, Umeå police responded to a series of car fires in Ersboda, Tunnelbacken, and Holmsund, suspected to be a spate of arson. Police have not, however, expressed any specific concern about arson tonight.
Today, the Umeå Student Choir and Student Union broke with their tradition of in-person bonfire events and held online Valborg concerts instead. The choir broadcasted a lunchtime video of some 15 members of the choir singing together — from entirely different locations.
The Student Union, later in the afternoon, held a Valborg concert featuring local popular music groups Gnarly Charlie, Jannike Stenlund, Soul River, Svindel, Supersonic Boom, and Jambb. The concert was widely shared on social media and hosted by union Vice President Timmy Nyberg.
Tonight, the Sävar IK football club intends to celebrate Valborg in a creative new way, by piloting a float around the Umeå neighborhood with a traditional Swedish play fishpond known as a fiskdamm, as well as music to create a party atmosphere. “We will drive around, much like an ice cream truck,” club representative Rickard Lundmark told SVT, “and still celebrate Valborg, despite the situation.”
Tomorrow, meanwhile, is the May Day holiday, which celebrates laborers and originated in the international worker’s movement. In the afternoon, Umeå’s Left Party is planning to hold both a physical celebration at City Hall, and a virtual one, in the setting of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. May Day revelers are invited to meet in the realm of “Argent Dawn” in the “Valley of Trials” in the desert of “Durotar”, a land in World of Warcraft. Left Party Political Secretary Andreas Sellstedt sent Umeå Today an image of his own World of Warcraft character, “an orc named Rodbjork”, in the desert.
The city announced this morning that it is setting up a special residence for elderly patients who have the coronavirus. The care home, located at the Dragonen facility in Väst på Stan, is intended as a temporary project during the pandemic, and is still in the planning stage.
“The unit can be expanded to a capacity of 15 patients,” city operations manager Malin Sundbom told Västerbottens-Kuriren, “but at the start we are planning for seven.”
The facility is planned to have its own dedicated staff who only work there. “The workers will receive the training and protective equipment they need,” said Sundbom.
The total number of reported coronavirus cases in Västerbotten increased by 19 today, to 322, with 20 in the hospital and 11 in intensive care, according to regional officials. The death total remained constant at 15. Västerbotten County today opened up a new website with interactive graphs illustrating the region’s coronavirus case statistics.
Finally, Umeå University’s Curiosum science center sent Umeå Today a new, English-subtitled version of its video in which local children ask a biologist questions about the coronavirus. Umeå Today first reported on the video on Saturday. Umeå University virologist Niklas Arnberg answers such questions as, “What is a virus?”, “Where does coronavirus come from?” and “Can children get coronavirus?”