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Prime Minister’s address to the nation, 22 March 2020
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This evening, I would like to speak directly to you, the Swedish people.
The COVID-19 virus is testing our country, our society and all of us as fellow human beings.
Every person now needs to mentally prepare for what is coming.
In Sweden, the COVID-19 virus is now spreading in the community.
Lives, health and jobs are at risk.
More people will get the disease, more people will have to say a final farewell to a loved one.
The only way to manage this crisis is to face it as a society, with everyone taking responsibility for themselves, for each other and for our country.
I know that many of you are worried.
Worried about how our society will manage this crisis.
Worried about yourself, about someone you love who is in an at-risk group, or that your job will disappear.
I understand this. The coming months will be trying. But our society is strong.
Our government agencies are working hard day and night. Our health care and education professionals and many, many other people in critical jobs are keeping our country going.
I, as Prime Minister, and the Government I lead, will take every decision that is necessary to protect the lives, health and jobs of as many people as we possibly can.
In Sweden, public gatherings of more than 500 people have been banned, and upper secondary school and university education is now conducted online.
I want you to be prepared for the possibility of further far-reaching decisions, sometimes at short notice, sometimes disrupting our everyday lives even more.
The aim of the Government’s work is to limit the spread of infection, to prevent too many people becoming seriously ill at the same time.
But also to secure health care resources, and at this difficult time lessen the impact for those of you who work and for businesses.
Be prepared for this to continue for a long time.
Be ready for the situation to change rapidly.
But you should also know that we as a society are tackling this crisis with our collective strength.
Now we all have a great personal responsibility.
There are a few critical times in life when you must make sacrifices, not just for your own sake, but also for those around you, for your fellow human beings, and for our country.
That time is now. That day has come. And the duty is everyone’s.
Each and every one of us has a responsibility to prevent the spread of infection, to protect older people and those in other vulnerable groups.
None of us should risk it. None of us should go to work with symptoms of illness.
Young, old, rich, poor – it doesn’t matter, everyone must play their part.
This also applies to those of you who are 70 or older, or who belong to other at-risk groups.
I understand that it is frustrating to have to restrict your life, your social interactions, but right now it is necessary. For the sake of your own health of course, but also to protect other people and give the health care system a chance to manage the situation.
And the adults among us must now behave like adults. Not spread panic or rumours.
No one is facing this crisis alone, but everyone bears a huge responsibility. Each and every one of us.
I know that the demands are huge. But this is the only way we can hold back the spread of infection.
I know that some restrictions are trying. But this is how we can make sure that the health care system can manage the crisis.
I know that the situation feels tough. But following the advice of the authorities is every person’s duty. Yours – and mine.
Many of you are taking your responsibility as fellow human beings.
You are helping your neighbours with their shopping, you are supporting your local restaurant by buying a takeaway lunch, you are not visiting your grandmother – but you are ringing her every day for a chat instead.
This is solidarity in practice.
I am proud to be Sweden’s Prime Minister when I see what so many people are doing for their fellow human beings.
You are showing that when things are at their toughest, our solidarity is strongest.
I am sure that every one of you in Sweden will take your personal responsibility and do your utmost to safeguard other people’s health and help each other. And that you will be able to look back on this crisis and be proud of your role, your contributions for your fellow human beings, for our society and for Sweden.