A key distinction for Sweden is that its government believed it didn’t need to enforce guidelines regarding social distancing on a population that would heed the advice of the country’s independent public agencies. According to polling data, Swedes have a high level of trust in the country’s public institutions.
This trust is a “fundamental element of Swedish society,” said Olofsdotter. “That’s why we can work with recommendations, because most people actually follow them. It’s part of who we are. Of course there are people who don’t, but the main bulk of the people do.”
Authorities in Stockholm have had to close down a handful of restaurants that weren’t adequately following social distancing measures. Although these sorts of establishments remain open, they still feel the pandemic’s toll. Like in other countries, many Swedes are working from home, curtailing travel and avoiding public spaces.
“The whole tourism sector and hospitality industry are in an extremely dire situation,” said Olofsdotter.