STILL Sweden doesn't learn: Public continue to mill about in groups
STILL Sweden doesn’t learn: Public continue to mill about in groups as life goes on despite warnings their coronavirus approach is a recipe for disaster
- Pictures show shopping centres packed in Stockholm as customers walked past billboards about Covid-19
- Some 230 people have died from the lethal bug in the Scandinavian country and there are almost 5,000 cases
- Authorities have advised public to practice social distancing, but allow more freedom than other countries
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Swedes are flocking to the streets and continuing their lives as normal despite the looming threat of the deadly coronavirus.
Pictures from Wednesday show shopping centres were still packed in Stockholm as customers walked past billboards warning about Covid-19.
Some 230 people have died from the lethal bug in the Scandinavian country and there are almost 5,000 cases reported.
Pictures from Wednesday show shopping centres were still packed in Stockholm (pictured) as customers walked past billboards warning about Covid-19
Some 230 people have died from the lethal bug in the Scandinavian country and there are almost 5,000 cases reported. But people are acting as normal in the capital (pictured)
A woman photographs under a blooming cherry tree in Kungstradgarden park, Stockholm, despite the threat of the coronavirus
People in Stockholm work out and share outdoor gym equipment and ignore social distancing advice from the authorities
A man walks past an information board on the coronavirus on Queens Street in the capital on Wednesday afternoon
Swedish authorities have advised the public to practice social distancing, but still allow a large amount of personal freedom unlike most other European countries.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a strict lockdown from March 23, only allowing people to leave their homes for exercise, essential shopping or for medical reasons.
But Sweden remains the last major European country to have most of its schools, bars and restaurants still open despite the virus.
The only steps the Social Democratic-led coalition has taken is to close universities and higher education colleges, as well as to order restaurants and bars to only serve people at tables rather than at the crammed bar.
There is also a ban on public gatherings but, with the limit set at 50 people, it is more generous than other European countries such as the UK where the maximum is two.
Swedish authorities have advised the public to practice social distancing, but still allow a large amount of personal freedom unlike most other European countries (pictured, in the centre of the capital)
Sweden remains the last major European country to have most of its schools, bars (pictured in Stockholm) and restaurants still open despite the virus
Yet during press conferences at the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden, reporters are abiding by social distancing and sitting apart
People continue to visit the popular cherry blossoms trees at Kungstradgarden in Stockholm despite the threat of the virus
The only steps the Social Democratic-led coalition has taken is to close universities and higher education colleges, as well as to order restaurants and bars to only serve people at tables rather than at the crammed bar. Pictured: A cashier at work in a busy shop in Stockholm
It comes as record numbers of hotels and restaurants went bankrupt in Sweden last month as some customers stayed at home to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
Figures from credit information firm UC showed bankruptcies in the restaurant and hotel sector shot up 123 per cent in March compared with the previous year, with the transport sector also seeing a big jump, up 105 per cent.
Richard Damberg, economist at UC, said: ‘In the next stage, this is going to hit banks and real estate firms which will have to negotiate debt write-downs with these firms. If we look forward, suppliers to the car industry are also going to have an increasingly tough time.’
UC said 78 businesses in the hotel and restaurant sector went bust in March, up from 35 last year. In the transport sector, there were 43 bankruptcies against 21 in March 2019.
Also facing a battering is the country’s airlines, with Scandinavian Airlines laying off its first group of 30 employees this week.
There is also a ban on public gatherings but, with the limit set at 50 people, it is more generous than other European countries such as the UK where the maximum is two
People walk past an outdoor restaurant at Strandvagen street as the coronavirus spreads across Sweden at a steady pace
It comes as record numbers of hotels and restaurants went bankrupt in Sweden last month as some customers stayed at home to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Pictured: People gathering in Stockholm
Pictured is a general view of the popular pedestrian Drottninggatan – Queen’s Street – in the capital Stockholm on Wednesday
An electronic billboard in the capital advises the public to keep up to date with the health authorities’ information on the pandemic
Scandinavian Airlines, known also as SAS, announced in mid-March the temporary layoff of up to 10,000 employees, 90 per cent of its workforce amid a drop in demand for international travel as governments clamped down on public events to contain the virus outbreak.
With the help of a foundation, it is one of several airlines offering former staff the chance to work on the front line of the pandemic.
In the UK, budget carrier easyJet and Virgin Atlantic have asked their laid-off staff to do the same, with the support of the British government.
Many airlines are laying off staff at a dizzying pace. Some are putting employees on temporary leave, in which they are paid with the help of government aid, or shorter hours.
Germany’s Lufthansa, for example, is doing that with 27,000 out of 35,000 employees. In other cases, employees are losing their jobs outright, and those are being given priority for the medical training programs.
A street with less pedestrian traffic than usual as a result of the coronavirus disease is shown in Stockholm. But further down the road a large number of people can be seen gathering in close quarters
People walk on Drottninggatan, the main shopping street in Stockholm, on Wednesday as the extent of the coronavirus pandemic seems yet to hit Sweden
Airline cabin crew are considered good candidates to work in hospitals because they are required to complete medical training to serve aboard flights in case of an emergency.
They are also trained in how to handle difficult interpersonal situations, such as unruly passengers on flights, that can help in stressful work places like hospitals.
‘We´re really good at being around people and taking care of people,’ says 23-year old Mathilda Malm, a former flight attendant who was also part of the training program in the Swedish capital. ‘And we´re always prepared for every situation and we handle it in a calm way.’
The program in Sweden is a joint initiative between the Sofiahemmet medical institution in Stockholm, the Novare recruitment firm and the Wallenberg Foundation which is providing financing of around $700,000.
Former Scandinavian Airlines flight attendants learn basic skills on to assist in nursing homes and hospitals due to the coronavirus outbreak, in Stockholm
Former Scandinavian Airlines flight attendant, Mathilda Malm tests her hands for bacteria as she learns basic skills on to assist in nursing homes and hospitals
Oscar Stege Unger is the director of the Wallenberg foundations, but also a board member of SAS who was involved in the decision to lay off the majority of staff.
‘We had to make huge lay offs, temporary layoffs, and we know that there is a lot of really skilled cabin crew that could be of assistance going into the health care. So that’s where the idea came,’ he said.
They secured financing for 300 trainees and Unger believes this can be scaled up to help more people left unemployed by the virus outbreak.
He said he is looking to export the system and is in talks with other airlines in countries like the US, UK and Australia, where the virus has spread more aggressively.
Stockholm mayor Anna Konig Jerlmyr does not want to take chances and says that retrained airlines staff can relieve pressure on healthcare provided, freeing up nurses and nursing assistants from non medical tasks.
‘It is a way of optimising our resources at a moment where the nurses are giving treatment and health care to the elderly and the students coming in to give assistance,’ she said.
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