What can we learn from Sweden?
Sir, – While the jury is still out on the Swedish Covid-19 approach, we need to remember that there are significant differences between Ireland and Sweden.
Compared to the island of Ireland, Sweden has only a slightly larger population but more than 500 per cent more land mass. Around half of all Swedish households are made up of one person. They have outdoor nursery schools and class sizes around 40 per cent smaller than ours. Lots of Swedes have summer houses in the north to escape to; and they’re more reserved in public to begin with. They don’t need to form a scrum in order to socialise, and they don’t have a culture of covert admiration for rule-breaking.
A less-prescriptive approach may or may not work in Sweden, but it’d be unlikely to work in Ireland. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Last spring every country in Europe except Sweden locked down. The mass quarantine was defended as a prudent delaying tactic, premised on a vaccine arriving before winter. Now the wolf is at the door. Each passing day makes Sweden’s hard choice look more farsighted, and our expensive gamble more naive. Changing course now would be admitting our mistake; economic ruin is preferable to that embarrassment.
Certainly our political masters have disgraced themselves but those minded to blame them should recall how popular the lockdown and associated restrictions were initially. The masochistic contortions we now endure illustrate HL Mencken’s dictum that, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – Yours, etc,