Coronavirus: Concern in Malmö over busy squares and shopping centres

Coronavirus: Concern in Malmö over busy squares and shopping centres
A busy Malmö shopping street on Tuesday, the same day stricter local recommendations came into force in the region. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
After a reduction in movement during the spring, authorities in Malmö have warned that there are now more people circulating in shopping and dining districts than this time last year.

As part of the Skåne region, Malmö is subject to local coronavirus restrictions until at least November 17th.

This includes recommendations against close contact with anyone from a different household, using public transport, or going to indoor environments such as shops, malls, museums, or gyms. Exceptions apply for essential activities such as food shopping, commuting to a job that is impossible to do from home, or receiving medical care.

The new local restrictions have been in place since October 27th, but even before then people were urged by nationwide guidelines to work from home and avoid public transport and crowded spaces if possible.

In several popular shopping and dining areas, visitor numbers had fallen year on year quite significantly in May, but in September the difference was smaller or even higher compared to the same month last year, leaving authorities concerned ahead of big shopping weekends like Black Friday and the run-up to Christmas.

In the Hyllie neighbourhood, home to a large shopping centre and arena, visitor numbers had fallen by 24 percent year on year in May 2020, but by September had instead increased by three percent compared to the same month last year, even despite the cancellation of all major events at the arena.

Gustav Adolfs Torg in the city centre saw a 40 percent year-on-year reduction in footfall in May, but in September the gap had reduced to just 10 percent. And similar patterns were reported at Lilla torg and Möllevångstorget, two popular meeting places with several shops, bars and restaurants.

“This is a serious situation. The next few weeks will be decisive for which direction [the coronavirus pandemic] takes in Skåne,” municipal management strategist Per-Erik Ebbeståhl told a press conference on Wednesday.

“At the weekends we are behaving in principle the same way as before corona, when it comes to nightlife and entertainment,” he warned. 

“This is a big worry ahead of the coming weekends. Black Friday for example, which is a big weekend when it comes to commerce and trade. And then we have Christmas shopping and post-Christmas sales. If we don't succeed in keeping the spread of infection low at those weekends, we will have serious challenges.”

According to figures shared by the Public Health Agency at their biweekly press conference on Tuesday, the average rate of new cases per 100,000 people was 149 in Skåne over the last 14 days. The number of people receiving hospital care for the virus also rose sharply in recent days.

Coronavirus: What are the rules and recommendations in Sweden now? (paywall-free)

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