Sweden’s new coronavirus rule for restaurants, bars and cafes

Sweden's new coronavirus rule for restaurants, bars and cafes
A restaurant and bar by the waterside in Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
Sweden on Thursday announced an update to its coronavirus regulations for restaurants and cafes, the biggest change being that a one-metre distance between groups of customers is now required.

Under the new regulations, the business is responsible for ensuring that it's possible to keep a metre's distance between separate groups, and individuals are urged to also take personal responsibility in keeping distance.

Even within groups, the agency recommends an arm's length distance between people from different households. 

Sweden's authorities have been criticised for giving unclear and varying guidance on the appropriate distance to keep. The official regulations only state to “keep distance”, and the Public Health Agency has spoken of an “arm's length” distance when in public spaces while healthcare service 1177 has referred to “the two-metre rule” in its own information campaigns.

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Restrictions for restaurants and cafes introduced in late March meant they can offer table service only, must have hand-washing and sanitising facilities, and should avoid crowding through measures like rearranging furniture or marking out distance on the ground. These rules are still all in place.

“The new part is that we have specified the one-metre distance,” the Public Health Agency's chief legal officer Bitte Bråstad explained on Thursday. “It's also the case that staff restaurants, school cafeterias, and food trucks aren't covered, and they were covered by our earlier regulation.”

These regulations come into force on July 7th, and they are part of a new act which came into force on July 1st and meant that local councils took over responsibility for carrying out checks of restaurants and issuing shut-down orders if needed.

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