Since the pandemic began, Sweden has been hailed by anti-lockdown advocates as an example to follow: no national lockdowns, no mask mandates. Life has seemed fairly normal there, as the nation appeared to be faring better than other nations.
Sweden was having such success avoiding being like other Western nations that had imposed lockdowns and mandates on their citizens that even NBC News was forced to admit last month that the Scandinavian nation sure seemed to be outperforming expectations.
Noting that Sweden "looks like the world we lost," the outlet even suggested that the country could be a "pandemic roadmap" for the U.S.
But with the current spike in cases worldwide, even Sweden is making some relatively drastic changes.
For the first time since the start of the global pandemic, the Swedish government is set to impose a partial lockdown on some businesses.
According to Fortune, the government announced Wednesday that, starting Nov. 20, the state would prohibit bars and restaurants nationwide from selling alcohol after 10 p.m. and that all businesses licensed to serve alcohol must close by 10:30 p.m.
The country had seen several localities heavily recommending Swedes to avoid contact with people from outside their homes and to limit their movements. Those local recommendation apparently had little impact on the spread of the virus, so with cases in the nation on the rise, the government elected to impose its first-ever nationwide mandated lockdown of any kind.
The nation saw a record high number of new cases (15,779) on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center. Sweden is about to set a new weekly record as well. Its previous weekly high of new cases was 22,106, set Nov. 1-7. As of Wednesday, the number of weekly cases from Nov. 8-11 is 28,977.
"We are facing a situation that could turn black as night," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said, according to Fortune. "We risk ending up in the situation we had last spring."
He added that he is willing and ready to add on stricter prohibitions on pubic gatherings if the new measures do not succeed in tamping down the virus' rate of growth.
How the Swedish people act now will decide whether the nation "will be able to celebrate Christmas as normal," the prime minister said.