Sweden postpones decision to lift 50-person limit on public events

Sweden postpones decision to lift 50-person limit on public events
Health Minister Lena Hallengren. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Sweden will at this stage not raise the limit on the number of people allowed to attend public events as planned, the government announced on Thursday.

Sweden limited the maximum number of people allowed at a public event was limited to 500 in early March, before further reducing it to 50 people later that month, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

It applies to public 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.

After the number of new coronavirus infections dropped sharply in Sweden in summer, the government proposed raising the limit at events with designated seating to 500 from October 1st, after discussions with organisers and health authorities. But the final decision was delayed following a rise in coronavirus cases in September, and on Thursday it was again postponed with no new date announced for when such a decision could be taken.

Health Minister Lena Hallengren and Culture Minister Amanda Lind, who announced the news together with Public Health Agency director-general Johan Carlson at a press conference on Thursday, said they were sorry that they were not able to raise the limit at this stage, but that the coronavirus situation did not allow for it.

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Sweden was long spared the large second wave of coronavirus that many European countries have been seeing in recent months, but new infections have been on the increase in the past few weeks in several regions, including Stockholm, Skåne and Uppsala.

Uppsala has said it is considering making restaurants close at 11pm, after discussions with the Public Health Agency, to curb what a regional councillor described as a “very worrying” rise in cases in the university town.

The Public Health Agency is developing plans to introduce tigher local restrictions if needed in areas where there are significant local outbreaks, said Carlson. He has previously said that such restrictions could potentially include limits on the size of groups that may meet, or recommendations not to go to the shops except for food.

A total of 97,532 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Sweden since the start of the outbreak.


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