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Optional masks: Sweden removes Covid rules for seniors and risk groups for several reasons

Optional masks: Sweden removes Covid rules for seniors and risk groups for

Swedish seniors, over 70s and other risk groups should follow the same coronavirus guidelines as the rest of the population. This was announced by the authorities by changing the rules as previously they were advised to avoid all close contact with people with whom they did not live in a house.

Sweden's Chief of Public Health has said that self-isolation has hurt the elderly. Sweden is one of the countries that has not set strict rules against the virus, except for cautionary advice.

The rate of infection in Sweden is rising, but other parts of Europe have been hit hardest. For months older Swedes and other at-risk groups have been advised to avoid going to shops, including supermarkets and pharmacies.

Optional masks: Sweden removes Covid rules for seniors and risk groups for

Johan Carlson, head of the Swedish Public Health Agency, said the recommendations had helped reduce the spread of the virus to vulnerable groups.

But he said there had been physical and mental health consequences for those groups. Given the duration of the pandemic, he added, it was unreasonable for them to continue to bear that burden.

"There will be a risk to individuals. We will see people get sick, so we need to find a balance," he said.

Advice for the general population includes avoiding large clusters - such as crowded restaurants - frequent hand washing, social distancing and work from home if possible.

Uppsala, north of Stockholm, became the first region to introduce tougher local rules yesterday.

Residents are advised to avoid physical contact with persons not living in the same house.

Sweden's relatively relaxed policy compared to most of Europe with no order to wear masks has attracted international attention.

The nation of 10 million people prides itself on social consensus and obedience, rather than on the dictates of government. / BBC /