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Coronavirus: What are the rules and recommendations in Sweden now?

Coronavirus: What are the rules and recommendations in Sweden now?
People in most regions of Sweden should avoid indoor environments, and everyone is urged to keep a distance from others in public places. Photo: Amir Nabizadeh / TT
With the coronavirus infection rate rising in Sweden, it's important for everyone to continue to play a part in keeping yourself and those around you safe. Here's a reminder of the guidelines that apply everywhere in Sweden. (Paywall Free)

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Here is the advice in brief; you can scroll down to read more details.

  • Stay at home if you have any cold- or flu-like symptoms, for at least seven days after first feeling ill and two days after being fully symptom-free. You should also stay at home if someone else in your household has tested positive for the coronavirus, even if you have no symptoms (children may still go to school).
     
  • Get tested for the coronavirus if you have symptoms that last more than 24 hours and have no other obvious cause (such as a migraine or allergies).
     
  • Practise good hygiene, for example by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
     
  • Keep distance from all other people when in public places, both indoors and outdoors.
     
  • Avoid large gatherings, including parties, weddings, and other activities. Limit your social contacts and meet only a few people in your close social circle.
     
  • Work from home if you can. Employers should be allowing everyone who can work from home to do so.
     
  • If possible, avoid using forms of public transport where you can't book a ticket.
     
  • If you have to travel on public transport, avoid busy times such as rush hour if you can and keep distance from others while on board and at stations or stops.
     
  • As of October 22nd, these national guidelines apply to everyone in the population, with no change in the measures based on age or risk level. Previously, people aged over 70 or belonging to a risk group were urged to avoid all close contact with people outside their household.
     
  • Follow local recommendations. In addition to these national guidelines, stricter local rules may be introduced in response to local outbreaks. As of November 24th, local measures were in place across the entire country, varying slightly by region but generally including recommendations to avoid close contact with anyone you don't live with, avoid public transport, and avoid indoor environments like shops. Find out the situation in your area here.

In addition, the government has introduced laws regulating public events and the restaurant industry. These rules are legally binding, while the Public Health Agency guidelines for private individuals are not, so there are no fines for violating them. But they are not considered optional and apply to residents and visitors in Sweden alike, all of the time.

Here is more detail on the measures that everyone in Sweden should be taking, and why they're important.

Stay at home if you're sick 

Anyone who exhibits any cold- or flu-like symptoms that don't go away within 24 hours should stay at home until at least seven days after falling ill. You should do this until you feel totally better and have been symptom-free for at least two days, according to the Public Health Agency.

During this time, you should avoid any situation where you would come into contact with other people, including public transport, going to public places, or having friends or family round to your home. 

That applies even if you only have a mild cough, sore throat, or runny nose, and even if in normal circumstances would continue your daily life as usual. Don't forget that even if you have mild symptoms, you could pass on the infection to others, potentially causing other people to become seriously ill.

And if someone in your household, or someone you have had close contact with, tests positive for Covid-19, adults should stay at home for seven days after the household member tests positive, and take a coronavirus test after five days. If you develop symptoms or test positive, you should follow the advice outlined above. Children are allowed to attend school or preschool even if a household member has Covid-19. There is more information available from the Public Health Agency

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Seeking medical care

If you do experience cold- or flu-like symptoms, contact 1177 or your local doctor's surgery for medical advice. The Stockholm region offers an online test where you can assess your symptoms and see what kind of care is most suitable. 

You should also get tested for the coronavirus if your symptoms last for longer than 24 hours. If you test positive for Covid-19, you should continue to stay at home for a minimum of seven days after the first symptom, and at least two days after becoming fever-free, according to the Public Health Agency. If you test negative, you should still stay at home until you are entirely symptom-free.

Even if you experience very mild cold or flu symptoms and feel no need to seek care, the Public Health Agency recommends that you stay at home and limit social contact until you have been symptom-free for at least two days.

If you feel ill and want medical advice or think you need treatment, call Sweden's national health hotline 1177, or the emergency number 112 if it is a medical emergency. They will advise you on the next steps.

Authorities have repeatedly emphasised that it is important to continue to seek medical care when necessary. Doctors' surgeries and hospitals have measures in place to reduce the spread of infection, and you should inform them of any symptoms consistent with the coronavirus before or at the very start of your visit.

Practise good hygiene

One of the main things every individual has been advised to do is to practise good hygiene.

That means washing hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitiser when that's not possible, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoid touching your face, and cleaning shared surfaces at home regularly. 

If you are exercising, the Public Health Agency asks that you avoid sharing water bottles, towels, or other items that might lead to people exchanging saliva. If possible you should get changed and shower at home rather than in shared changing rooms, and avoid sports involving close contact with others.

Limit social contact and keep a distance from others in public

Everyone in Sweden is required to limit their social contact and keep a distance from others in public. That applies to indoor and outdoor locations such as shops, offices, museums, libraries, and waiting rooms.

The Public Health Agency specifies keeping “an arm's length distance”, but the World Health Organisation recommends keeping at least a one-metre distance from others, and two metres if possible. This is the distance that has been most commonly referred to by the 1177 healthcare service and Stockholm's regional healthcare chief, known as the “two-metre rule”.

In all regions that have local measures, everyone is urged to avoid all close contact (being within a 1.5-metre distance) with people you don't live with, although people living alone may continue to have one or two social contacts.

The Public Health Agency also asks that people “avoid taking part in large social events such as parties, funerals, christenings, and weddings”. The advice to avoid large gatherings, and keep a distance from people from a different households, also applies to celebrations including religious festivals, graduation ceremonies, and so on. Public events may not have more than eight people, and the government has said that people in Sweden should follow the rule of eight as a norm in private life too.

Limit use of public transport

Everyone in Sweden is asked to avoid using public transport as much as possible. Methods of transport like walking, cycling or driving should be chosen in the first instance, and if that's not possible, transport where you can book an allocated seat are preferable to buses, trams or trains with no allocated seating.

If you do need to use public transport, you should avoid rush hour if you can, and always keep a distance from others onboard as well as at stations and platforms. That's especially important in typically crowded areas, in order to allow people who must use public transport, for example to travel to work, to use it safely.

There are currently no national restrictions on how far you can travel within Sweden if you are symptom-free.

However, some regions with local coronavirus restrictions have urged everyone to avoid all non-essential travel to and within the region.

Work from home if possible

The Public Health Agency has advised everyone who can do so to work from home, and for employers to offer employees this option if at all possible, even if it is not the norm.

This applies everywhere in Sweden and will continue to be the recommendation until at least the end of 2020.


Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

This advice is based on recommendations from the Public Health Agency, and might change quickly as the situation develops. You can also read all their advice in English here, and find advice from the World Health Organisation here.


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