The Swedish government has announced new coronavirus restrictions will come into force for four weeks to limit socializing in the run-up to Christmas, amid soaring infections and falling compliance with current guidelines.

In a digital press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said there had been concerning developments in the spread of Covid-19 in Sweden and that new restrictions are needed.

From November 24, gatherings of more than eight people will be banned for a month. The previous limit was 300 people.

Lofven called on Swedes to do their “duty” and take “responsibility” in slowing the spread of the virus. He also told people not to attend parties or dinners and to refrain from visiting the gym or cinema.

“These are very intrusive measures that are unparalleled in our history, but they are absolutely necessary to limit the infection,” the PM said.

This spring we saw a great compliance. Advice and recommendations were enough for most people to keep their distance and cancel plans. Now compliance is lower.

Lofven said the ban on group gatherings was justified because of rising Covid-19 cases, and that the guidance outlined by the health authorities was no longer being taken as seriously by some people. As a result, Sweden needed to move from recommending social distancing to bans.

The PM reiterated his government’s strategy in holding off on the more strident measures put in place elsewhere in Europe, claiming “we don’t believe in a total lockdown, we believe the measures being implemented in total will have an effect.”

Last week, the country moved to ban the sale of alcohol after 10pm.

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Sweden received a lot of international attention earlier in the year when it chose not to lockdown the country in response to the first wave of the coronavirus, unlike many other nations.

However, subsequent research showed Sweden suffered a very large number of deaths, taking into account its population size. Neighboring countries, such as Finland, had been considerably more successful in preventing fatalities.

Research from John Hopkins University highlights that Finland has recorded 6.69 deaths per 100,000 from Covid-19, whilst Sweden has registered 60.53 fatalities per 100,000.

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