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The Wall Street Journal: Sweden is forging its own pandemic path with most of the Western world under stay-at-home orders

April 01
03:52 2020

The ski pistes are open, the restaurants are doing ample business, and the malls are awash with shoppers.

Welcome to Sweden, the last holdout among the small number of Western countries to have taken a radically different approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

While social life in Europe and much of the U.S. now centers on the home after governments imposed increasingly drastic curbs on freedom of movement, Sweden left offices and stores open, issued recommendations rather than restrictions, and waited to see what happens.

Businesses, kindergartens and schools remain open. After a long winter, Stockholm’s street cafés and outdoor bars swelled with people over the weekend, and the city’s old town drew large crowds as locals ventured out to enjoy the good weather. The only mandatory changes are a ban on meetings of more than 50 people and an order forcing bars and restaurants to only serve seated customers so as to avoid overcrowding.

The U.K. and the Netherlands also considered letting the virus propagate through the population in a controlled manner so as to build a natural form of immunity. Both reversed course after academics warned they could face hundreds of thousands of deaths and an overwhelmed health care system.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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