Swedish strategy fails in Curitiba and city shuts down bars and parks

Swedish model fails in Curitiba and city shuts down bars and parks
Photo: Curitiba City Hall

Back in May, the southern city of Curitiba seemed to be handling the coronavirus crisis better than most state capitals. Mayor Rafael Greca celebrated that his constituents were “following the Swedish model,” according to him. “We had no lockdown, relying on people’s intelligence instead,” said Mr. Greca. But just as the Nordic country has admitted its no-lockdown approach failed, Curitiba seems to be coming to the same conclusion.

Over the past week, Curitiba has seen its number of daily new cases triple to 59 — a hefty increase, even if it pales in comparison to São Paulo’s four-digit figures of new cases every day. In reaction to the surge of infections, the city government has ordered gyms — reopened on May 25 — to close again. Bars, parks, squares, and religious temples shall remain closed indefinitely.

Shopping malls will remain open, however, albeit with restricted hours. Buses will continue circulating, but only at 50 percent capacity.

Swedish model not a benchmark

Unlike its Scandinavian neighbors, Sweden chose not to adopt a full-scale lockdown. And it has resulted in one of the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rates. Earlier this month, infectious diseases expert Anders Tagnell, the man behind his country’s Covid-19 strategy, admitted that his approach had “absolutely” failed to save many lives. “There is quite obviously a potential for improvement in what we have done,” he told a local public radio station. Sweden’s higher contagion levels have kept the country excluded from border openings across the European Union in recent weeks.

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