These are the rules you need to know about if you’re visiting Sweden this summer

Sweden has become known internationally for its more lax approach to coronavirus restrictions, with many of the measures relying on voluntary participation. But tourists are still expected to follow these guidelines.

These are the rules you need to know about if you're visiting Sweden this summer
It's possible for travellers from many countries to come to Sweden, but you still need to be aware of the coronavirus recommendations. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist / TT

With one of the highest infection rates in the EU, it's important that visitors and residents in Sweden continue to follow the recommendations in place, both to protect yourself and others.

Bear in mind that some establishments may have introduced additional measures such as asking guests to use hand disinfectant, queue outdoors, or wear gloves, so make sure to check for any information posters.

At the airport

Ten of Sweden's airports recommend wearing face masks while inside the terminal. They are: Arlanda, Landvetter, Bromma, Malmö, Luleå, Umeå, Åre, Visby, Ronneby and Kiruna.

These airports also recommend that passengers who are being seen off or greeted arrange to do that outside the terminal, to reduce the spread of infection, and passengers are encouraged to check in online in advance and use self-service machines for baggage and boarding.

There's no requirement to take a coronavirus test or bring a health certificate if you travel to Sweden, and measures like temperature checks aren't being carried out at airports. However, there is still a ban on entry to travellers from many non-EU countries, so you should of course make sure you'll be allowed to enter before planning or embarking on a trip.

Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

Travel responsibly

There is no guidance against domestic travel, meaning you can travel freely around the country as long as you do it safely. Everyone in Sweden is asked to avoid public transport in the first instance if that's possible, meaning carrying out journeys by car, bike, or other means if you can.

If you have to use public transport, non-essential journeys should be carried out using methods of transport where you can book a seat if possible, and outside rush hour. 

Several regions have apps or services online which allow you to check how busy different routes are, to help you plan your journey.

Face masks aren't compulsory on public transport in Sweden, although guidelines may change.

Social distancing

Whether indoors or outdoors, you should keep your distance from people outside your household or immediate circle.

Sweden hasn't specified an exact recommended distance, with the guidelines varying from “an arm's length” to two metres, but some venues or cities may have introduced their own guidelines. For example, regional authorities in Stockholm ask everyone to keep two metres apart in public places such as parks, beaches, and so on.

Many other venues, such as museums, have also reduced the number of visitors they are accepting, and even some parks and nature reserves have warned of crowding. So make sure you look into any rules before you head on a day out, leave if the location is crowded, and be aware while you're there.

At restaurants and bars

These venues have their own specific rules, with managers responsible for ensuring one metre's distance between different groups. As a customer, you have responsibility for keeping that distance, not rearranging furniture in a way that makes this harder, and not entering a crowded spot.

Bear in mind also that only table service is permitted at Swedish bars and restaurants, so don't crowd at the bar.

A restaurant and bar by the waterside in Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Limit your contacts and avoid large social gatherings

Again, the actual recommendations are fairly loose, apart from a nationwide ban on public events of over 50 people. Unlike many countries, there's no fixed number of individuals or households that are allowed to meet, but the authorities do recommend limiting your social contacts.

That means only meeting a small group of the same people, avoiding larger events including weddings and parties, and keeping your distance from people outside your usual small social circle.

People crowd at a central swimming spot in Malmö. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Socialising safely

If you're travelling to Sweden to meet friends or family, here are the Public Health Agency's guidelines on meeting others:

  • Only meet if everyone is symptom-free
  • Meet outdoors if you can
  • Keep around an arm's length distance from everyone who isn't in your household
  • Meet only in small groups (no specified number)
  • Maintain good hand hygiene, including making it the first thing you do when you go indoors

Stay at home if you have symptoms

This is one of the guidelines that the Swedish authorities have stressed the most. If you experience any symptoms consistent with the coronavirus, you should not travel in the first place, and if you develop symptoms while in Sweden you should stay inside your accommodation and avoid social contacts. Under Swedish guidelines, you should do this until you have been symptom-free for at least two days.

This guidance may change, depending on how the situation in Sweden develops. Some helpful English-language resources on the coronavirus in Sweden besides The Local are the Public Health Agency and KrisInformation.

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‘A game changer’: Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

Industry associations representing airlines have called on European authorities to plan a “public communications campaign” to alert non-EU nationals about new requirements to enter and exit the Schengen area.

'A game changer': Airlines demand EU explain new border system for non-EU travellers

The EU Entry/Exit System (EES) will record the biometric data (finger prints and facial recognition) of non-EU citizens travelling for short stays to the Schengen area (EU countries minus Ireland, Romania and Bulgaria, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), each time they cross the external borders.

Fully digital, the system will enable the automatic scanning of passports replacing manual stamping by border guards. The data collected will be kept in a centralised database shared among the Schengen countries.

The EES was created to tighten up border security and will ensure the enforcement of the 90-day limit in any 180-day period for tourists and visitors. But it requires changes in the infrastructure at the external borders, including airports, and the setting up of a new digital infrastructure to connect authorities in participating countries.

Its entry into operation has already been delayed several times. The latest date for the EES launch was May this year, but last week European authorities decided to postpone it again “due to delays from the contractors”. It is now expected to enter into force at the end of 2023, as The Local reported this week.

Airline associations including European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the delay and said further preparations are needed.

“The EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions,” a joint statement says.

Things to be resolved include a “wider adoption and effective implementation of automation at national border crossing points by national authorities, funding by member states to ensure a sufficient number of trained staff and resources are deployed to manage the EU’s external border, particularly at airports,” and the “deployment of sufficient resources” to help airports and airlines with new procedures.

Airlines also said there needs to be a public communications campaign to inform non-EU citizens about the changes.

In addition, industry groups called on EU-LISA, the agency responsible for managing the system, to “strengthen communication” with airlines and with international partners such as the US “to ensure IT systems are connected and compatible.”

The decision to postpone the EES entry into operation until after the summer “will give airlines, airports and EU and national authorities the opportunity to resolve these issues and ensure the system is fully tested,” the statement continues.

The EU-LISA is currently preparing a revised timeline for the launch, which will be presented for approval at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, the meeting of responsible EU ministers, in March 2023.

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.