Many countries imposed mandatory lockdowns and curfews during the coronavirus pandemic, but Swedish decision-makers were reluctant to do anything that would change the country’s constitutional protections of freedom of movement.
Sweden did roll out temporary pandemic legislation which gave the government more powers to, for example, introduce limits on visitor numbers in shops and restaurants to curb the spread of coronavirus, but this stopped short of curfews and fullscale lockdowns.
One of the things the inquiry is set to answer is whether or not curfews helped halt the spread in other countries, and if so, whether Sweden should be able to impose them. But according to the government’s directives, such measures should not go further than necessary.
Health Minister Lena Hallengren told the TT newswire that she would be prepared to change her opinion based on the inquiry’s final report, but “at the end of the day I don’t think we should have a curfew. It’s an enormous infringement of people’s freedom”.
The inquiry will also look into how to limit crowds and how to impose sanctions on individuals. Swedish law already states that everyone is obligated to do their part to stop the spread of infectious diseases, but in practice there are few ways available of enforcing this. The inquiry will look at, for example, whether people who ignore recommendations to wear a face mask or keep a physical distance should be penalised.
It will also investigate several other measures, including how to improve the social insurance system for disease carrier’s allowance to help more people work from home, and how to strengthen infection control in for example care homes for the elderly.
The commission, which will be led by the health ministry’s legal head, Lars Hedengran, will present its first report by May 15th next year and its final report by August 31st, 2023.