“We are still in the middle of a pandemic and necessary restrictions need to remain. The danger is far from over,” said Interior Minister Mikael Damberg, though he said the situation was much better than in spring.
The maximum number of people allowed at a public event was limited to 500 in early March, before being further reduced to 50 people later that month. It applies to events such as concerts, conferences, and sports matches, but not to private events such as parties or weddings, or in places like schools, workplaces or shopping centres.
That 50-person limit will stay in place, but Damberg described it as a “blunt tool” since it doesn't currently grant any exemptions for events that have the possibility to be held in an infection-safe way.
The government is now investigating introducing exemptions for events with seated audiences.
This will apply to events such as sports matches or performances where attendees are seated, with two metres between groups. Under the government's proposal, these events would be allowed to host more than 50 people, but would still be subject to a maximum limit on numbers and to other rules which will be decided after discussions with the Public Health Agency and relevant industries.
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As well as allowing for exceptions to the 50-person cap, the proposals would also make event organisers responsible for ensuring attendees can keep social distance.
Any change to the legislation would require support from parliament, which is most likely to happen with the Social Democrat-Green minority government receiving support from the Centre and Liberal parties.
Damberg said that the reason for presenting the plans now was to give relevant companies and organisations time to plan, and that the goal was to implement them from October 1st.
“The Public Health Agency will update its existing recommendations so that events can be held in an infection-safe way,” said Culture and Democracy Minister Amanda Lind. “This will be done in close dialogue with representatives of the sport and culture sectors, and other affected sectors.”
Lind noted that the sports and culture sectors have been particularly hard hit by the effects of the pandemic, including the limit on events.
She announced that an extra 2.5 billion kronor will be given to support these industries, with 1 billion kronor for sports and 1.5 billion for culture.