Swedish Strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

by Xuefei Chen Axelsson

The Swedish Government has presented a range of different measures to safeguard people’s lives, health and jobs in recent weeks.

“This crisis will continue for a long time. It will be tough. But our society is strong. If everyone takes their responsibility, together we will overcome it,” says Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.

On 1 February, the Government classified COVID-19 as a disease that constitutes a danger to society, opening the possibility of extraordinary communicable disease control measures.

The overall objective of the Government’s efforts is to reduce the pace of the COVID-19 virus’s spread: to ‘flatten the curve’ so that large numbers of people do not become ill at the same time. 

It is important to implement the right measure at the right time, to achieve the best possible impact. The Government will take every decision necessary to safeguard people’s lives, health and jobs.

The measures taken by the Government and government agencies to reduce the pace of the virus’s spread need to be weighed against their effects on society and public health in general. The measures taken are reviewed constantly as the situation develops.

An important starting point is careful consideration of the expert knowledge contributed by government agencies. These expert agencies can make recommendations to the Government on the measures they consider should be taken, but they can also take decisions of their own.

“Our government agencies and our health care system are doing everything they can. But every person in Sweden needs to take individual responsibility. If everyone takes responsibility, we can keep the spread of the virus in check. Follow the authorities’ advice: if you have even the slightest symptoms, do not go to work and refrain from meeting other people,” says Mr Löfven.

People in Sweden have a high level of trust in government agencies. This means that a large proportion of people follow government agencies’ advice. In the current situation, people in Sweden are on the whole acting responsibly to reduce the spread of infection by, for example, restricting their social contacts.

This crisis may continue for a long time, and in order for the measures to work over time, people need to understand and accept them.

The efforts and decisions of the Government aim to:

1. Limit the spread of infection in the country

By limiting the spread of the virus, the Government aims to relieve pressure on the health care system and protect people’s lives, health and jobs.

2. Ensure that health and medical care resources are available

The Government aims to ensure that the municipalities and regions, which provide the health care, have all necessary resources. For this reason, central government will cover all costs arising as a result of the pandemic, e.g. higher costs for additional staff and protective equipment.

3. Limit the impact on critical services

To ensure that society can continue to function, the Government monitors needs and takes the decisions required to ensure that the health care, police, energy supply, communications, transport and food supply systems, for example, can maintain their activities.

4. Alleviate the impact on people and businesses

The Government has presented crisis packages to mitigate the financial impact of the pandemic on Swedish businesses, organisations and agencies, and to save people’s jobs and livings.

5. Ease concern

By continuously providing information, the Government aims to make it clear what measures are being taken, and why. The Government broadcasts important information live on its website, regeringen.se. Written information about the Government’s efforts, measures and decisions is also available there.

6. Implement the right measures at the right time

The Government is monitoring developments in the COVID-19 pandemic closely. It is taking the decisions that are needed, when they are needed, to limit the spread of the virus and counter its impact on society.

The responsibility principle

In Sweden, crisis management is built on the principle of responsibility. This means that the party responsible for a particular activity under normal circumstances is also responsible for that activity in a crisis situation.

More information and the responsible agencies

In Sweden, crisis management is built on the principle of responsibility. This means that the party responsible for an activity under normal circumstances is also responsible for it in a crisis. More information on how Sweden is governed (se below).

Complete, up-to-date and confirmed information from the responsible government agencies is available in a number of languages on krisinformation.se (see below).

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