Tonight I would like to say a few words that I’d like you to bear in mind now as winter darkness settles over us.
This year, the world has changed before our very eyes.
Early this spring, we were faced with a huge challenge in the form of a pandemic.
The COVID-19 virus forced us all to make major sacrifices.
We have had to refrain from so much of what we hold dear.
We have had to cancel or avoid so many of our normal activities.
And tonight, in late November 2020, it is clear that it will be some time before we can return to what we consider ‘normal’.
For this reason, I will once again ask you for something that is very difficult but completely necessary.
The short respite we experienced during the summer and autumn is truly over.
Then, neighbours and friends could get together outdoors for a cup of coffee. We were able to our meet our frail relatives out in the fresh air.
Life did not return to normal – but there were moments during those lovely summer days when it almost felt as if it had.
This spring, many people said that at least COVID-19 had struck during the bright days of March rather than the dark days of November.
Now it is November.
People’s health and lives are still at risk.
And the danger is increasing.
More and more people are being infected.
More and more ICU places are being used for treating seriously ill COVID-19 patients. More and more people are dying.
Let us remember that more than 6 000 people in Sweden have already died from COVID-19.
Let us remember that for every person who has died, there are people who have lost a beloved parent, a beloved child or a beloved friend.
Let us remember how overworked health and social care staff were.
And let us remember that they are still hard at work, day and night, to save lives.
What we as a country do wrong now, we will suffer for later. What we get right now, we will benefit from later.
What we do now will affect how we celebrate Lucia Day.
How we celebrate Christmas.
Who is still with us at Christmas time.
It may sound harsh. It may sound brutal.
But this is exactly how harsh and brutal reality is.
We know what we have to do to flatten the curve of transmission.
We’ve done it before. We did it last spring.
Then, when COVID-19 arrived in our country, we all agreed to take responsibility.
We took responsibility for Sweden. We protected ourselves, our loved ones and people we don’t even know.
We took responsibility and we gave health and social care staff a chance to cope with the acute crisis.
We did it together. This is our strength, Sweden’s strength.
This autumn, too many of us have neglected to follow the advice and recommendations.
But now we see that people are starting to take responsibility again. That fewer people are travelling, and more are working from home.
Continue to do so – and stay strong.
But we all must to do more.
It depends on you and me.
Stay updated as to the advice and recommendations that apply where you are.
Only get together with those you live with.
If you live alone, choose no more than one or two friends to socialise with. But continue to keep your distance.
Stay at home if you have the slightest symptoms.
Wash your hands often and carefully.
And employers: if possible, arrange for your employees to work from home.
Regarding all the things you’d like to do but that are not necessary:
Cancel them. Re-book them. Postpone them.
It will be some time before this is over. And until then, this is the new ‘normal’ for all of society, for all of Sweden.
To those who feel that everything is dark now, let me say: the situation is not hopeless.
Sweden is being tested. But Sweden will pull through.
Our health and social care are functioning, despite everything.
Buildings and roads are being built, despite everything.
Our children are getting an education and are eager to learn, despite everything.
We must take this situation very seriously, but we will do so with discipline, determination and courage.
To those who may feel that this doesn’t concern them, let me say:
Even if you only become mildly ill, you can still infect others. In restaurants, at work, during meals at home, on buses or in shops.
A stranger you infect may become very ill.
A friend you infect may need hospital care.
A grandparent you infect may die.
These are the people for whom you should make sacrifices. These are the people for whom you must show determination, self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.
When this crisis is over, we must all be able to remember how we helped one another.
Remember the solidarity. Remember the feeling of community and the feeling of doing the right thing. Remember how we pushed back the spread of infection and lifted our country.
But this means that here and now, we must show our solidarity and our sense of responsibility.
And that these are stronger than the virus we are going to defeat.
So now let’s get on with this.