Sweden left schools, bars, restaurants, and gyms open during the coronavirus pandemic. Experts say the strategy might be working.

Health officials in Sweden say the country’s relatively relaxed COVID-19 prevention and mitigation strategies may be working to flatten the cure of new COVID-19 infections.

“We’re on a sort of plateau,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s top state epidemiologist who designed the nation’s COVID-19 strategy, told Swedish news outlet TT, Bloomberg News reported Sunday.

Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of the microbiology department at Sweden’s Public Health Authority, on Friday also said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country appears to be “stabilizing,” according to the report.

“The trend we have seen in recent days, with a more flat curve — where we have many new cases, but not a daily increase — is stabilizing. We are seeing the same pattern for patients in intensive care,” Wisell said.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Sweeden has reported 14,385 cases of COVID-19 and experienced 1,540 resulting deaths.

The death toll in Sweden is higher than those in the Scandinavian region of Europe, which also includes Denmark and Norway — countries with smaller populations — but it falls significantly below those of Italy, Spain, and the UK, Bloomberg News reported.

As Business Insider previously noted, the country’s actions are in contrast to those of neighboring Denmark, which put its citizens on a mandatory lockdown order before any reported deaths from the disease had been reported in the country.

Denmark has experienced 7,580 reported cases of novel coronavirus infections and 355 deaths, according to data from Hopkins, though the population of Sweden stands at about double than that of Denmark, according to Eurostat.

While other countries, cities, and states around the globe enacted strict social distancing rules that closed businesses and ordered residents to stay home, Sweden took a different approach to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping businesses and schools open. The country’s leaders have called on citizens to practice social distancing by choice rather than through a mandate.

A handful of recommendations were offered to Swedes by the government, including suggestions to stop nonessential travel, to work from home, to keep a distance from others in public, and to regularly wash their hands. The government banned gatherings of over 50 people and enacted a moratorium of visiting places like nursing homes, according to the previous Business Insider report.

Still, some health experts have feared the strategy will prove harmful in the long run. Thousands of scientists in the country spoke out against the government for not ordering a lockdown.

The World Health Organization on April 8 called on the nation to enact stricter measures to control the “spread of the virus, prepare and increase capacity of the health system to cope, ensure physical distancing and communicate the why and how of all measures to the population,” according to CNN.

Following weeks of various lockdown measures, Americans in the US have begun to protests stay-at-home orders, calling on leaders to relax social distancing measures in the US and allow businesses to re-open to stimulate the economy.

According to Bloomberg News, some analysts believe that in refusing to close down businesses, the Swedish economy could have an easier time rebounding than countries that have shuttered businesses completely.

*story by Business Insider