With the death toll nearing 6,000—up 31 since Friday—Sweden is moving away from its light touch in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Alone in its region in deciding to not impose a lockdown at any point, the BBC reports, the nation now is dealing with a steep increase in infections. "We have a very serious situation," Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said. Most of the new recommendations are voluntary, though the number of people sitting together in restaurants and cafes will now be limited to eight per table. Other policies, including suggestions to work from home if possible and avoid public transportation, cover 70% of the nation's population in three regions. The public health chief expressed hope that Swedes will work together to stop the spread the way they did earlier in the year. But he said, "We have a long, tough winter in front of us." The number of new cases reported per day rose by 70% in a week.
"We are in a completely different situation from what we were in only a week ago," another health official said. "Now we need to slam on the emergency brakes to stop this." The guidelines vary be region but include not attending parties or indoor destinations such as stores and museums. Workplaces are asked to take greater precautions, per Business Insider. A woman who lives near Stockholm said not much will change, pointing out that the government still maintains asymptomatic spread has only a minor role as a cause of infections. Some restrictions have been dropped, such as one on elderly people remaining isolated; their health could be harmed by the isolation, the government decided. Another woman who lives outside Stockholm supports the strategy the nation has followed. "For us, the psychological benefit of living without COVID fear outlives any health risk we might have from the virus," she said. (Read more Sweden stories.)