Sweden reduces public gathering to 8

Sweden on Tuesday reduced the number of people in a public gathering to eight as part of efforts to curb rise in coronavirus cases.

After protests, an exception was made for funerals where at most 20 people could assemble.

The previous cap on public gatherings such as demonstrations, performances, concerts and worship services was 50 people.

The cap does not apply for private gatherings.

Government members including Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have underlined the need to abstain from private parties or visits to gyms, swimming pools, libraries and shopping malls, and when possible avoid public transport.

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In a speech to the nation, a rare event, Lofven noted: “The little breather we had during the summer and autumn is over.

“Too many have neglected to follow advice and recommendations,’’ he added.

However, there were some signs of change with reductions in travel flows and more people working from home, he said.

The country of 10.3 million has seen roughly 208,300 infections and over 6,400 coronavirus-related deaths in total.

Compared to its neighbours, Sweden has adopted far less stringent measures to stem the spread of the virus, including leaving restaurants and cafes open.

A ban on night-time alcohol sales entered into force on Friday.

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Many of Sweden’s deaths earlier in the year have been attributed to infections in nursing homes.

The Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO) cited “serious shortcomings” in medical care at these homes after a review of patient records.

Sofia Wallstrom, IVO director-general “decisions and implementation of end-of-life care have not been made in accordance with current regulations for the elderly who live in these facilities.’’

dpa/NAN