10 August, 2022

Sweden: desolated, worried, cold and holy water

photo VD: Marlon Hernandez.
By Diego Recinos

Following the announcement of the Swedish State to restrict the massive crush of people and the two Coronavirus deaths in the country, the inhabitants of the Nordic countries themselves have taken measures to prevent the pandemic.

The weekend is special when summer is approaching and the cold winter is ending. People enjoy the sun and longer hours of daylight. Bars and parks, restaurants and shopping centers have special places for Swedes to enjoy a conversation outdoors.

But we begin this weekend was different. Few people were in the most popular places in Stockholm. The train was half empty and shopping malls looked desolated. Nothing is safe from the pandemic. Neither the church, neither the economy nor the celebration and joy latina. Nothing. Thus experiencing a Salvadoran settled in Sweden these days of uncertainty in this country.

Joseph reported to work early. As usual, He prepared their tools and prepared to start your day cleaning. But in an unusual calm atmosphere breathed. His suspicions began to be realized when she received a text message from his boss with a strange question. "José: a formality of the company and to prevent spread of coronavirus, I need you to tell me if you've been out of Sweden this year and if you plan to leave the country ".

The message startled José. They never had done such questions. He then received a call from his boss for a meeting of urgent character. At the meeting, the boss explained that, for the moment, work would decrease by 60%, because many customers, They have called to cancel. Whereby, much of the staff will not have working hours for the week. The question was bound, So, what will happen to us? The chief replied in a sudden English: “I do not know”.

Nobody knows. Well, José, to the like thousands of immigrants, They work and have an employment contract for hours. Which means you win in as the hours you work. Simple. Thus, the reduction in working hours is a hard, sharp blow to the economy of immigrants. Because they do not have a fixed salary.

And things do not look good. Since the announcement of the preventive measures of the Prime Minister in Swedish, the Swedish economy seems to be the same. Just walk the main streets of Stockholm to realize. Central Park, meeting point and social enjoyment looks almost deserted. The central station is almost empty at its peak time.

Bares, coffee shops, restaurants, shopping malls and churches; look with little influx of people. Only two places are saved from the desolation. Grocery stores and Systembolaget (is the state monopoly on liquor stores in Sweden). Systembolaget establishments are the only stores that can sell alcoholic drinks containing a higher percentage of alcohol at the 3,5%. Otherwise, all the working places 50% of capacity.

Jerome is three years after arriving in Sweden, with effort, He could get a job as assistant in a Swedish hotel chain. But this sector has been hard hit by the anti pandemic. "I call my boss every day and I send messages to ask and beg for hours, but there is nothing. Everything is dead. Hotels are empty and tourists. I have two weeks of being out of work and it seems that this will change ".

With little hope, Jerónimo, He went to church to pray. But to the house of God he has had to make changes. "I went to the church and to the holy water have been removed. As we all stick their fingers, by order of the bishop, He took off for not going to be a possible source of infection. The ostia give it in hand and no peace is given by hand, just shake their heads ". He expressed amazement.

While Joseph and Jerome walk the streets desolate Swedish. They think of a solution ". I have to pay rent to month (5 crowned mil, equivalent to 500 Dollars), bus card (930 crowned, equivalent to 94 Dollars) and the food; but this week I lost 32 work hours. Money that is 4,160 crowned (about 425 Dollars) and the next week I already canceled several days. What will live?, Jerome expressed with concern.

Joseph is more pragmatic. "Many you want to close all. It's okay, one understands that health is first. But we, without permanent contract workers do not have to live on. Close what they can, but give us options to work ".

While the Swedish state has not extended the measures, the increase in cases is large. So far there 815 persons infected, two people dead and several under suspicion. The place with the most number of infected is Stockholm. The two largest hospitals in the city feel that there are still steps to ensure that their premises are completely ready for a possible pandemic in the city.

Given this situation it is expected that many Swedes chose to stay home. For there is no bar, or cafeteria, neither church nor park; that is free from any possible contagion.

While, just waiting for the storm to pass and the sun comes with clean air.

photo VD: Marlon Hernandez.