Swedish health agency gives green light to seated events of up to 500 people

Swedish health agency gives green light to seated events of up to 500 people
A socially distanced crowd of fewer than 50 spectators at a football match in Gothenburg earlier this month. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
The Public Health Agency has suggested that the limit for attendees at public events be raised to 500 – but that one metre's distance should be kept between guests.

The decision comes on Thursday, after the government asked the agency to look into possible ways of easing the restrictions currently in place on public events.

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.

There have been complaints from the culture, sports and other affected industries which argue they would be able to put on larger events in a safe way, and last week Interior Minister Mikael Damberg described the 50-person cut-off as a “blunt tool”.

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He announced then that the government was looking into possible changes to the measures for seated events only, and said that the Public Health Agency had been asked to update its guidance.

The agency has also suggested further measures which should be adopted for larger public events, including that all participants should keep a distance of at least one metre from each other. This would apply to both indoor and outdoor events.

It is the government and not the Public Health Agency that is responsible for legislation on public events, so the agency's recommendation isn't binding. However, throughout the pandemic the government has chosen to rely heavily on the agency's guidance, so it is likely that they will adopt the suggested limit.

The government's proposal, if adopted, is set to come into force on October 1st.

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