Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven generated headlines on Tuesday over a recent visit to a shopping mall, despite his government's calls to refrain from visiting such venues amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Stockholm daily Expressen published images of Lofven in the Gallerian shopping mall on 20 December. Two days earlier, Lofven had urged citizens to refrain from visiting crowded shopping malls in the run-up to Christmas, or for sales in the post-Christmas period.
"I hope and believe that people realize this is serious," Lofven told a press conference at the time.
A spokesman for Lofven said on Tuesday that the prime minister had visited the mall "to collect an item he had previously handed in."
The visit was "carefully planned" and Lofven had "heeded recommendations from the Public Health Agency and himself to avoid crowds. I cannot offer further details," spokesman Mikael Lindstrom said in an email.
At the weekend, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson came under fire over a 26 December visit to a shopping mall in the southern city of Lund.
Johansson had bought a "delayed" Christmas present for his parents, he said, but apologized and said it was careless. He also discussed the matter with Lofven, who said it was inappropriate.
Lofven's government on Monday completed work on a draft bill that would temporarily enhance its powers to tackle the pandemic, including allowing it to order the closure of shopping malls, public transport, gyms and cultural venues, for example.
The law was proposed to be in effect until the end of September.
The country of 10.3 million has seen about 428,000 infections and 8,484 deaths due to the virus.