Sweden asks Norway for special solution after unemployment in Strömstad soars by 75%

Strømstad storePhoto: Adam Ihse / TT / NTB
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Unemployment in Strömstad increased by 75% after Norway effectively closed its borders. Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Trade is asking the Norwegian authorities for help.

The pandemic and the halt in cross-border trade between Norway and Sweden have led Strömstad in northern Bohuslän into a deep crisis. 

With the exception of short periods, the border has been closed since last spring.

In one year, unemployment in the municipality has increased by 75%, and mayor Kent Hansson thinks it is just the beginning.

“About 1,500 to 2,000 people have now been notified of redundancies or fired. That is more than 20% of the able-bodied population in the municipality,” Hansson said.

A special solution

“The economic crisis has hit Strömstad harder than other municipalities,” Foreign Minister Anna Hallberg noted.

On Wednesday, she participated in a digital meeting with representatives of the municipality and the business community.

“We have tried every conceivable measure. What we can do is continue to work for the borders to be reopened,” Hallberg added.

She says the Swedish authorities hope that Norway can accept a special solution, as is the case in Tornedalen, where Finland has opened the borders for those who live in the border municipalities.

“That is what I have tried to work and lobby for. But so far, Norway has chosen to see the border closure as an effective way to stop the infection. We do not think it is,” Hallberg said.

Exposed

The introduction of a ten-day quarantine affects all municipalities with cross-border trade, but Strömstad is particularly vulnerable. 

The reason is that the city has a particularly large tourist industry. Many companies used to hold their meetings halfway between Gothenburg and Oslo. 

Now this industry is also battered.

At the meeting, the social and emotional consequences of the border closure were also discussed.

“It is important to raise these issues in contact with the other Nordic governments. 

“It’s about people’s togetherness or lack of togetherness. I felt how difficult the situation was. 

“It will be easier for me to convey the message after this,” Hallberg said after the meeting.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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