Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven (Image: Henrik Montgomery/ TT via AP)

Poor Sweden. The darling of anti-lockdown agitators is now facing a large surge in new coronavirus cases.

There was a time there in August in Melbourne where you couldn’t even whisper about lockdowns without the word Sweden echoing angrily off the walls. But theories of Swedish exceptionalism never really made much sense, and now the Scandinavian country is in the same position as most of Europe: tightening restrictions rather belatedly

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced a cap on the maximum number of people who could meet. Down to eight from its previous level of 300. It’s not quite a total lockdown, but it surely punctures the argument that social cohesion in the world’s favourite social democracy made it virus-proof.

“It’s going to get worse. Do your duty and take responsibility for stopping the spread of the virus,” Mr Löfven said.

“Don’t go to the gym, don’t go to the library, don’t have parties. Cancel.”

A familiar set of instructions for the rest of us. Let’s hope the Swedes can cope.