Swedish city to dump metric ton of chicken manure in park to discourage festival gathering

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A city in Sweden plans on spreading 2,000 pounds of chicken manure to deter festival crowds descending on the area Thursday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Tens of thousands of people typically travel to the Swedish city of Lund in celebration of Walpurgis Night, a festival that also sees parties and bonfires scattered across Europe. Officials believe the smell of manure will help detract people from the gathering, which is classified as "spontaneous," so it can't be banned by authorities.

“Lund could very well become an epicenter for the spread of the coronavirus on the last night in April, [so] I think it was a good initiative,” the chairman of the local council’s environment committee, Gustav Lundblad, told the Sydsvenskan newspaper, according to the Guardian.

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While there is no official lockdown in Sweden, officials throughout the country have warned people to stay away from the yearly tradition in order to limit the potential spread of the virus. Lundblad said the chicken manure in Lund will have an added benefit, allowing the city to fertilize their lawns.

“We get the opportunity to fertilize the lawns, and at the same time it will stink and so it may not be so nice to sit and drink beer in the park,” Lundblad said.

He worried that a potential drawback to the unique method is the smell might waft out of the park and into other areas of the city.

“I am not a fertilizer expert, but as I understand it, it is clear that it might smell a bit outside the park as well,” Lundblad said, according to the paper. “These are chicken droppings, after all. I cannot guarantee that the rest of the city will be odorless. But the point is to keep people out of the city park.”

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Walpurgis Night, which runs from April 30 to the evening of May 1, dates back to pagan celebrations of spring.

Sweden has banned planned gatherings of more than 50, but it has relatively lax restrictions compared to other countries -- which drew scrutiny this month.

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As of Thursday morning, the country has more than 20,302 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 2,462 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.