But the Public Health Agency denies that the strategy had anything to do with trying to protect jobs.
“I don’t have this model to protect the economy, it’s the other sectors of society that do that,” says Anders Tegnell, an epidemiologist in the Swedish state.
But in an interconnected global economy, the financial impact of the coronavirus is felt everywhere. It is estimated that Sweden’s Gross Domestic Product will plummet this year and that so many Swedes have never lost their jobs.
“Sweden is an export-dependent country. 50% of our GDP derives from exports. And we are particularly dependent on the single market. And when it is not working as expected, as in a crisis, then we are hit hard,” explains Anna Hallberg, Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs.
Euronews reporter Per Bergfors Nyberg says that “even if Sweden remained relatively open during the coronavirus pandemic, the economy suffered a blowout. Critics say the government could have done more.”
“I think they could have been much quicker to act. They could also offer companies more favorable terms, take their share of the cost to actually save the economy in the long run,” argues economist Andreas Wallström.
One of the sectors now struggling for survival is the tourism industry.
Harriett Johansson, who owns a souvenir shop in the old center of Stockholm, says she has lost 90% of revenue due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus.
“When you spend so much energy for so long, so many years and sometimes you don’t even receive a salary, therefore, a lot of work and low income per hour”, confesses the trader.
For Harriet’s store to survive, tourists need to return. But with coronavirus mortality far higher than in other Nordic countries, neighboring nations are wary of reopening the country’s borders. The Swedish government wants the opposite, the lifting of border restrictions.