And while most businesses in Sweden are still operating, the economic cost of the pandemic is already being felt. Last week, 25,350 Swedes registered as unemployed, according to the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce — a larger increase than during the 2008 financial crisis.
In contrast, just across a narrow strip of sea, neighboring Denmark is already talking about reopening society. They imposed a much stricter lockdown four weeks ago, closing borders, schools and businesses. This week, the prime minister said by acting early, Denmark averted the tragedy that struck hard-hit nations like Italy and Spain, which together have seen at least 37,000 virus-related deaths, and will be ready after Easter for a slow return to normal life that starts with reopening preschools and primary schools.
For weeks, the numbers of COVID-19 cases and fatalities were proportionally similar between Sweden and Denmark, but while the economic results of the strict isolation are being felt in Denmark, Sweden’s mortality rate has reached more than 88 dead per million, compared with around 47 dead per million in Denmark.