Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Stockholm

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in Stockholm on Saturday as they took to the streets in defiance of Sweden‘s coronavirus ban on gatherings.

Swedish police dispersed opponents of coronavirus measures that came after the government – which initially took a hands-off approach to Covid-19 rules – tightened restrictions further as cases continue to rise.

The tighter measures come after Sweden this week reported a ten percent rise in the number of Covid-19 cases for a third week in a row, increasing fears that the country is in its third wave of the virus. 

Police blocked a bridge in the centre of the city and said on their website they were in dialogue with organisers to persuade demonstrators to disperse. TV images showed police shoving some protesters, while the police said one officer had been slightly injured and taken to hospital.

Swedish police on Saturday started to disperse hundreds of opponents of coronavirus restrictions who staged a protest in the capital Stockholm (pictured)

Swedish police on Saturday started to disperse hundreds of opponents of coronavirus restrictions who staged a protest in the capital Stockholm (pictured)

Swedish police on Saturday started to disperse hundreds of opponents of coronavirus restrictions who staged a protest in the capital Stockholm (pictured)

The demonstration was organised in defiance of Sweden's ban on large gatherings, which has been introduced after the country reported a ten percent rise in coronavirus cases for a third week in a row. Pictured: Protesters in Stockholm, March 6

The demonstration was organised in defiance of Sweden's ban on large gatherings, which has been introduced after the country reported a ten percent rise in coronavirus cases for a third week in a row. Pictured: Protesters in Stockholm, March 6

The demonstration was organised in defiance of Sweden’s ban on large gatherings, which has been introduced after the country reported a ten percent rise in coronavirus cases for a third week in a row. Pictured: Protesters in Stockholm, March 6

TV images showed police shoving some protesters, while the police said one officer had been slightly injured and taken to hospital

TV images showed police shoving some protesters, while the police said one officer had been slightly injured and taken to hospital

TV images showed police shoving some protesters, while the police said one officer had been slightly injured and taken to hospital

Pictured: A man in Stockholm holds a sign calling for politicians to be jailed. A number of new restrictions were put in place on Monday to help curb the potential third wave

Pictured: A man in Stockholm holds a sign calling for politicians to be jailed. A number of new restrictions were put in place on Monday to help curb the potential third wave

Pictured: A man in Stockholm holds a sign calling for politicians to be jailed. A number of new restrictions were put in place on Monday to help curb the potential third wave

‘Police have taken the decision to break up the non- authorised gathering which is ongoing,’ Stockholm police said on their website on Saturday.

Earlier this week, protest organiser Filip Sjöström told local media that he was expecting around 2,000 people to join the demonstration, which had been announced on Facebook.

TV images showed hundreds of people had gathered. According to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, demonstrators had travelled from several parts of Sweden, which has a ban on public gatherings of more than eight people.

Sweden, which has 10 million inhabitants, registered 4,831 new coronavirus cases on Friday, and 26 new deaths, taking the death toll to 13,003.

The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.

Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours’ but lower than in several European countries that opted for lockdowns. 

It was announced on Monday that the number of new Covid-19 cases being reported in Sweden has rose by ten per cent for the third week in a row - with intensive care units beginning to strain. Pictured: Someone holds a sign that reads 'media is the virus', alongside another anti-vaccination placcard

It was announced on Monday that the number of new Covid-19 cases being reported in Sweden has rose by ten per cent for the third week in a row - with intensive care units beginning to strain. Pictured: Someone holds a sign that reads 'media is the virus', alongside another anti-vaccination placcard

It was announced on Monday that the number of new Covid-19 cases being reported in Sweden has rose by ten per cent for the third week in a row – with intensive care units beginning to strain. Pictured: Someone holds a sign that reads ‘media is the virus’, alongside another anti-vaccination placcard

Pictured: The number of new Covid-19 cases being reported in Sweden has rose by ten per cent for the third week in a row - with intensive care units beginning to strain

Pictured: The number of new Covid-19 cases being reported in Sweden has rose by ten per cent for the third week in a row - with intensive care units beginning to strain

Pictured: The number of new Covid-19 cases being reported in Sweden has rose by ten per cent for the third week in a row – with intensive care units beginning to strain

Pictured: A man is taken away by police from a demonstration in Stockholm as people protest against coronavirus restrictions

Pictured: A man is taken away by police from a demonstration in Stockholm as people protest against coronavirus restrictions

Pictured: A man is taken away by police from a demonstration in Stockholm as people protest against coronavirus restrictions

Earlier this week, protest organiser Filip Sjöström told local media that he was expecting around 2,000 people to join the demonstration, which had been announced on Facebook

Earlier this week, protest organiser Filip Sjöström told local media that he was expecting around 2,000 people to join the demonstration, which had been announced on Facebook

Earlier this week, protest organiser Filip Sjöström told local media that he was expecting around 2,000 people to join the demonstration, which had been announced on Facebook

The government said last month that it would cut opening hours for restaurants, bars and cafes and tighten limits on the number of people allowed in shops, in a bid to ward off a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The centre-left government has gradually tightened restrictions since late last year after initially keeping most schools, restaurants and businesses open, relying primarily on voluntary measures. 

Sweden‘s Public Health Agency warned on Monday the country is heading for a third coronavirus wave, with greater restrictions possibly being needed to slow the spread of the virus.

A woman walks along a nearly deserted popular walking trail in central Stockholm on March 1, 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden

A woman walks along a nearly deserted popular walking trail in central Stockholm on March 1, 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden

A woman walks along a nearly deserted popular walking trail in central Stockholm on March 1, 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden

The government said last month that it would cut opening hours for restaurants, bars and cafes and tighten limits on the number of people allowed in shops, in a bid to ward off a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. People eat in a food court after the government called for the public to avoid crowds on March 1, Stockholm

The government said last month that it would cut opening hours for restaurants, bars and cafes and tighten limits on the number of people allowed in shops, in a bid to ward off a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. People eat in a food court after the government called for the public to avoid crowds on March 1, Stockholm

The government said last month that it would cut opening hours for restaurants, bars and cafes and tighten limits on the number of people allowed in shops, in a bid to ward off a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. People eat in a food court after the government called for the public to avoid crowds on March 1, Stockholm

The centre-left government has gradually tightened restrictions since late last year after initially keeping most schools, restaurants and businesses open, relying primarily on voluntary measures

The centre-left government has gradually tightened restrictions since late last year after initially keeping most schools, restaurants and businesses open, relying primarily on voluntary measures

The centre-left government has gradually tightened restrictions since late last year after initially keeping most schools, restaurants and businesses open, relying primarily on voluntary measures

The number of new Covid-19 cases being reported in Sweden has rose by ten per cent for the third week in a row – with intensive care units beginning to strain.

A number of new restrictions were put in place on Monday to help curb the potential third wave, including limited opening hours for shops and restaurants; the number of people allowed in shops and gyms were slashed and a maximum of eight people are allowed to meet at one time.

Despite this, in a press release, epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said that a third wave is imminent in Sweden if the current restrictions are not followed, Aftonbladet reports.

Pictured: A graph showing the average number of new coronavirus cases over seven days in Sweden

Pictured: A graph showing the average number of new coronavirus cases over seven days in Sweden

Pictured: A graph showing the average number of new coronavirus deaths over seven days in Sweden

Pictured: A graph showing the average number of new coronavirus deaths over seven days in Sweden

Sweden, which has 10 million inhabitants, registered 4,831 new coronavirus cases on Friday, and 26 new deaths, taking the death toll to 13,003. Pictured: Graphs showing the average number of new coronavirus cases and deaths over seven days

In a press release earlier this week, epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (pictured) said that a third wave is imminent in Sweden if the current restrictions are not followed

In a press release earlier this week, epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (pictured) said that a third wave is imminent in Sweden if the current restrictions are not followed

In a press release earlier this week, epidemiologist Anders Tegnell (pictured) said that a third wave is imminent in Sweden if the current restrictions are not followed

What restrictions were put in place in Sweden on Monday? 

Opening times reduced – The opening hours for restaurants, pubs and cafes around Sweden have been slashed in response to the increase in coronavirus cases. 

Previously establishments had to stop serving alcohol at 8pm and new rules mean that they will have to fully close at 8.30pm.

Despite the new opening hours, establishments serving food can still send out deliveries.

Visitors in restaurants – Only one visitor from a party may enter a restaurant that forms part of a trading place.

This rule does not apply where a restaurant can be reached from a different entrance. 

Fewer numbers in gyms and shops – The number of people entering gyms, shops and malls will also be reduced.

The Swedish Public Health Agency has been under increasing pressure to manage these numbers at local levels.

People wishing to go out shopping Sweden are encouraged to head out on their own, unless caring for children. 

Public transport to run half-full – Where a journey on a train exceeds 150Km, providers have been told to only operate at half-capacity.

Anybody using public transport must wear a mouth covering when a seat is not offered.

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This was echoed by Sweden’s Public Health Agency (PHA), which warned that even tougher restrictions could be necessary if people do not follow the rules. 

Sweden’s death rate per capita is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours’ but lower than in several European countries that opted for lockdowns.

In preparation for the third wave, Sweden’s PHA has created three possible scenarios for the spread of Covid-19 until May 2021, labelled zero, one and two.

In scenario zero, it is assumed that the contacts remain at the same low level as during Christmas and New Year. 

In scenario one, the contacts correspond to the level during the autumn of 2020, while in scenario two, the increase in contacts is faster than in the autumn. 

‘The first scenario is a bit overplayed already. It was assumed that we would hold back our contacts even more,’  Anders Tegnell said.

‘We do not seem to be there. It looks like we are really on our way to a third wave.’

With Sweden already heading towards scenarios one and two, more restrictions are likely to be enforced, though Tegnell said Monday he was unable to outline where new measures would be implemented.

Instead he suggested that any new restrictions would be in response to relevant areas in which a large spread of Covid-19 occurs. 

However, one measure which has been proposed, is to set a maximum limit on the number of people admitted into shopping malls and department stores to just 500. 

Speaking on the impact that vaccinations could have on the spread of coronavirus, Tegnell said that it will have little effect on the spread of the virus but would help keep the number of hospitalisations down. 

On Friday, Swden gave the green-light for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to be given to people over the age of 65.

‘There are now three studies conducted in Britain on the AstraZeneca vaccine which show it is as effective as other vaccines that have been approved and works for people even over the age of 80,’ ” the Public Health Agency said in a statement.  

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