Sweden to ban sale of alcohol after 10pm

Sweden to ban sale of alcohol after 10pm
A sign at a Stockholm bar reminds people to keep their distance. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT
The Swedish government has proposed a stop to the sale of alcohol after 10pm as the Prime Minister warned that too many people had relaxed when it came to following coronavirus recommendations.

The rule means all venues with a licence to sell alcohol must close at 10.30pm at the latest. That would include restaurants, bars including student bars, and nightclubs.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said: “It also seems like we are moving towards darker times when it comes to the spread of infection […] Every decision we take makes a difference.”

He also said that the government was prepared to take further measures if judged necessary, including potential limits on the number of people who may meet.

“I understand that people are tired, I understood that people miss their daily life. I understand that it can feel hard to follow the recommendations, but right now the situation is unsustainable,” said Health and Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren. “The pandemic will require more sacrifices from us all, not fewer.”

She described pubs and bars as “an important risk environment”, not only because they are a venue where people meet to socialise, but also because people may lower their guard when under the influence of alcohol.

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The change won't come into effect immediately. First, it needs to be sent out for consultation before parliament vote on it, after which it is intended to come into effect on November 20th and apply until the end of February 2021. 

If passed, the change would become law, in contrast to many of Sweden's coronavirus measures which take the form of recommendations. These still have a basis in law but are not enforced, and both ministers stressed the importance that each person in Sweden continue to follow these recommendations in their daily life.

“If you think, 'I can't sit at the pub after 10.30pm so I'll have 20, 25 people round at home', that's completely misguided. We are grown-ups who need to be able to take responsibility. We are in a very, very dangerous situation,” said Prime Minister Löfven, in response to a journalist who asked if there were concerns that people may instead crowd at alcohol monopoly Systembolaget or have crowded house parties.

Health Minister Lena Hallengren said, “I am assuming there is no-one who plans to arrange or go to their mulled wine party, 50th birthday party, wedding party or other similar events”, reminding people in Sweden to read and follow the recommendations in place.

There are already some laws in place regulating restaurants, bars and cafes in response to the pandemic. For example, groups larger than eight are not permitted, a distance of one metre must be kept between tables and there must be possibilities for hand-washing and sanitising.

In 13 of Sweden's 21 regions, including those where the three major cities of Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg are located, stricter local recommendations are in place which include a ban on close contact (defined as being nearer than 1.5 metres to another person) with anyone from a different household, although people living alone may have a small number of contacts.

That means people in these regions should not be meeting at bars or restaurants in most circumstances anyway, although unlike the laws regulating the businesses themselves, this guidance to the public is not legally enforced.


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  1. It seems that Swedish government is going to repeat the mistake other EU governments did, by waging a war against their own citizens. And the result will, sadly, be the same.

    People who want to socialise and break guildelines will continue to do so but they will move to private settings with no oversight whatsoever – judging by Lövfen’s statement, government even seems to be aware of that. And people who actually follow recommendations will just grow more frustrated, ultimately leading to lower compliance with all other guidelines as well.

    The problem isn’t lack of rules but rather how many people ignore them. Introducing tougher restrictions will only make things worse.

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