Sweden the pariah

It is well known that Sweden has taken a different approach to the pandemic, one that didn’t involve totally locking down society and enforcing quarantine and curfew. Instead, the Swedish way relied on the responsibility of the population to go about life, with some restrictions and be careful. Time will tell if this was the right choice in the long run.

In the short run, we see that Sweden has a relatively high incidence of death from Covid-19. It is of course hard to compare figures, because it depends on what and how you are counting. Sweden cross checks against the death register and counts every death, in every location. Not just in hospitals, or in intensive care units. Because the virus got into care homes, the vast majority of deaths is unfortunately found in the over 80 age group.

It seems like Sweden is now paying a price for the more relaxed corona strategy. With countries around the world slowly opening up, they have released lists of approved countries from where tourists are allowed. Sweden is not on many of these lists. Swedes are perceived as plague-carrying high risk tourists.

Sweden’s neighbours Finland, Norway and Denmark have opened up for travel after their lockdowns. But the borders to Sweden remain closed. Sweden has become the social pariah of Scandinavia. Norway released an interesting decision this week. No traveling to Sweden, except to the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland. However, domestic travel is allowed in Sweden, so the popular holiday island of Gotland will be packed with Swedes, mostly from Stockholm, crammed in together with Norwegian tourists. Not sure how Norway was thinking on that one.

Of course, as time goes on, Swedish tourists will be welcome again around the world. As Sweden’s death toll reduces, and the virus ebbs out, borders will open again. It’s just an usual situation right now for Swedes to find themselves unpopular.

So, staycation is the melody of summer 2020. My plans include a socially-distanced trip to lake Vättern, and a road trip up north. I’m also going to explore my hometown of Stockholm more.

If you’re staying in Sweden, what do you plan to do?

4 thoughts on “Sweden the pariah

  1. “It’s just an usual situation right now for Swedes to find themselves unpopular.”
    I don’t know in which “parallel dimension” the writer lives, but I would have never defined Swedes as “popular” in Europe. We are not hated, but quite frequently considered “cold blodded”. But we are economically successful and don’t let others to influence on our decissions. This pandemic has just made more obvious our daily behaviour.

  2. I don’t know in which “‘parallel dimension'” (or even country) “Janne” lives, but I think he is confusing concepts here. I’ve been living abroad for the last ten years (North America, continental Europe, the Middle East), and I would say that popular is an understatement if anything. People from all different strands of life that I have met in these countries, locals and expats alike, have exclusively been impressed, interested and praising with Sweden as a country and me as a Swede (before I’ve had any chance to say anything about myself). Sure a lot of the comments are stereotypes (that to some extent are true) like: all Swedes are so beautiful and tall, but mostly the comments have related to the high standard of living, the clean nature, and the high level of equality making it (relatively) easy to make a good living. And the fact that “Swedes are so good at everything”. However, I also don’t fully agree with “Neil” about Corona making Swedes unpopular. For sure, the picture of how Sweden has handled Corona is very negative among my non-Swedish friends, but this is expressed with surprise and confusion because people think it is so strange that a great country like Sweden would mess this up. Nonetheless, I have not experienced one iota of personal critique or any such negative personal comments, or otherwise experienced that people shy away from me or discriminate me because I am Swedish. That objective personal popularity is still there.

  3. “Time will tell if this was the right choice in the long run.”

    Time has told already. Unless you think the 6000 deads will raise from their graves, unless you can blindfully ignore the false promises (about herd immunity, about the 100000 tests a week), the lies revealed in the email (children do not spread virus but we’re going to use them to spread virus), the blatant incompetence (Tegnell has 1 year of epidemiology, he doesn’t even know how to make a model), and the conspiracy theories used by the FHM (Wittowski and now the “fat emperor”).

    I don’t know how you guys can act like it wasn’t a scandal.

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