Sweden is an outlier in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic:
After a long winter, it’s just become warm enough to sit outside in the Swedish capital and people are making the most of it. . .
On the roads in Sweden, things are noticeably quieter than usual. Stockholm’s public transport company SL says it saw passenger numbers fall by 50 per cent on subway and commuter trains last week.
Polls also suggest almost half of Stockholmers are remote working.
Stockholm Business Region, a state-funded company that supports the city’s global business community, estimates those numbers rise to at least 90 per cent for people working in the capital’s largest firms, thanks to a tech-savvy workforce and a business culture that has long promoted flexible and remote working practices.
“Every company that has the possibility to do this, they are doing it, and it works,” says its CEO Staffan Ingvarsson.
His words cut to the heart of the government’s strategy here: self-responsibility. Public health authorities and politicians are still hoping to slow down the spread of the virus without the need for draconian measures. . .
We tried that here with people from overseas who were supposed to self-isolate but it didn’t work.
There are more guidelines than strict rules, with a focus on staying home if you’re sick or elderly, washing your hands, and avoiding any non-essential travel, as well as working from home.
“We who are adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in a televised address to the nation last weekend.
“No one is alone in this crisis, but each person has a heavy responsibility.” . .
Whether we’re locked down, as people in many countries are, or left to take responsibility for ourselves, adults need to be adults.
I’ll try to keep reminding myself that every time I hear the woman in the advertisement telling me to wash my hands often and well as if I was a child.
Daniel Matarazzo has repurposed Supercalifragilisticexpialidosis:
Parliament featured a rare show of unity yesterday after the government declared a state of emergency.
This gives it extraordinary powers which are deemed an acceptable response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cross party support doesn’t mean the government is above criticism.
The rapidly increasing number of people with the disease, following the trend of other countries which were ahead of us and with which we are fast catching up, gives credence to the view that the government’s escalation of alerts came too late.
And the tougher border controls are still too soft.
. . . Ardern said the Government would further tighten its already stringent border restrictions, including mandatory screening for the limited numbers of people who are legally still allowed to enter.
Anybody who displayed symptoms of Covid-19, could not demonstrate a clear plan for self-isolation, or could not travel to their usual residence while maintaining physical distancing, would be put into “approved facilities” for a period of quarantine. . .
This is a definite improvement on what has been happening, but it is still not going hard enough.
Everyone who comes into the country must be quarantined.
That is the only way to be as sure as we can be that no-one coming here could spread the disease to others.
The country-wide lock down is unprecedented.
It gives the government and its agencies sweeping and draconian powers that severely curtail our ability to work, move, socialise, and travel.
It will come at a huge economic and social cost.
Jobs have already been lost, more will be. Businesses will fail. Charities will be over-stretched and some of them will fail too. Education is being disrupted. Liberty has been curtailed.
Domestic violence will increase. Children who depend on school for food will go hungry.
The only justification for this is that the disease chain is broken and dies out in the shortest possible time.
Four weeks lockdown will be hard. Any extension because links in the disease chain are still connected will be harder still.
The only way to be sure all links are cut is to be strict about the lockdown that has been imposed and just as strict at the border to ensure that everyone who could have, or be carrying, the disease, is quarantined.
A crisis brings out the best and the worst in people.
Among the good:
* the landlord who turned up at a small business and told the tenant he was forgoing rent for the next few months.
* the Subway franchisee who gave the fresh food she’s no longer able to sell to a food bank.
* the people who have created virtual networks with neighbours so people can ask for, and offer, help.
* the people who are doing what they should be – shopping as normal, maintaining safe distances from others, staying at home.
* the health professionals who are working to keep us all safe.
Among the bad:
* the panic buyers of groceries, alcohol and guns.
* the people who won’t follow the directive to stay home except for essential trips and maintain a two meter distance from others when they’re out.
The Warehouse will be staying open during the four-week lockdown:
In an announcement to the sharemarket, The Warehouse said it was a provider of key consumer goods for New Zealanders. . .
“In the past two weeks the group has seen unprecedented demand for essential items across all our brands. Goods sold included essential items to prepare themselves for the mandatory isolation period of at least four weeks,” the retailer said. . .
The Warehouse had already implemented limits on high-demand products such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser and face masks. . .
If you need loo paper, hand sanitiser, face masks and any other essentials, you could get them at supermarkets and/or pharmacies which will be open.
There’s also calls for liquor stores to remain open after panic buying.
If we are to take seriously the need for staying at home, venturing out only for essentials from the supermarket or pharmacy, no other retailers should be open.
People are going to get bored, people are going to get fractious, allowing them to browse and buy anything but basic essentials will encourage retail therapy, increase the potential for infection to spread and undo any of the good that isolating at home will be doing.
What is it people don’t understand about food production in New Zealand?
We turn grass into high quality protein via sheep and cattle; we grow lots of superb fruit and vegetables; we grow grain that’s turned into flour.
We do enough of all that to feed ourselves many, many times over.
That food production, the processing, delivery and selling of it are considered essential services and they’ll continue when the country goes into alert level 4 on Wednesday.
There was no need for the panic buying that started a week or two ago and reached frenzy levels at many supermarkets yesterday.
Not only will the farms, factories, transporters and shops keep operating as near to normal as possible, the people who service and supply them will too.
Putting the country into lockdown as the Prime Minister announced yesterday, has never happened before.
Whether it will work to stop community transmission of Covd-19 won’t be known for weeks.
Jobs will be lost, businesses will fail, and there might be other consequences of the shutdown, but the country running out of food will not be one of them.