A tent for testing and receiving potential coronavirus COVID-19 patients
© AFP / Jonathan Nackstrand
A tent for testing and receiving potential coronavirus COVID-19 patients is pictured at Karolisnka Hospital in Solna, Sweden on March 31, 2020
Sweden has banned gatherings of more than 50 people in a bid to tackle the coronavirus spread. The seemingly strict ban, however, was immediately put under a stress test and apparently failed it.

The ban came into force on Sunday and those who violate it are facing fines or a jail term of up to six months.

The restriction, however, has had little to no effect on migrants and pro-migrant activists, who have been protesting in the city of Gothenburg for weeks already.

The activists gathered again both on Monday and Tuesday, defying the coronavirus restrictions. While the gatherings were exceeding the new 50-person limit, law enforcement opted to not take any action against it.


Comment: What's the point of a ban if it's going to be ignored? Seems like if the protestors had a different agenda, the police would have a different disposition towards it.


"Right now, we're letting them hold it. We dissolve it if we feel it is needed," Johan Ljung, the commanding officer of the local police told reporters. "For this particular demonstration, it is very quiet because they sit down and even are silent."

The activists have been staging daily - and reportedly unauthorized - sit-ins outside the city's Migration Board, showing support toward Palestinian migrants trapped in legal limbo and unable to obtain proper residence permits.

"They sit there more or less every day, as I understand it," a spokesperson for local police stated.

In contrast with the majority of European countries, Sweden has been very reluctant to implement any coronavirus-related restrictions and enforce social distancing. Educational facilities, as well as public venues remain open across the country, while many nations across the continent have been under a full lockdown for weeks already.

While the somewhat laissez-faire approach drew criticism both from within Sweden and from other nations, the country has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic quite moderately so far. The country has almost 5,000 confirmed cases, including more than 230 deaths, according to the latest figures by Johns Hopkins University. The majority of the infected were detected in the country's capital, Stockholm.

Worldwide, the coronavirus tally is approaching the 900,000 mark, while the disease has already left more than 44,000 people dead.