Coronavirus: What are the rules for restaurants, bars and cafes in Sweden now?

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Coronavirus: What are the rules for restaurants, bars and cafes in Sweden now?

Venues serving food and drink in Sweden are subject to a special set of restrictions during the pandemic.


No more than four per table – and in some cases, one

The maximum group size for restaurants, bars and cafes, is four people. This includes both adults and children and applies until at least May 31st, 2021.

In addition, the national recommendations (which apply to individuals and unlike the laws for restaurants are not legally binding) state that individuals should limit close social contact to a small circle of close family and/or friends. This includes restaurant or cafe visits, so you shouldn't be meeting people outside your normal close circle at a restaurant even if you'd be less than four people in total.

As of March 1st, the limit is set at one person only for restaurants and cafés that do not have their own entrances, for example those located in shopping centres. This means you cannot sit at a table with anyone else at these venues, but there is an exception for children and people in need of support. The idea of this limit is to help ensure people follow recommendations to shop alone, not with family or friends.


No alcohol after 8pm

There is a ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks (over 3.5 percent ABV) between 8pm and 11am. This also applies to take-away or home delivery orders, according to the Public Health Agency. 

Low-alcohol and alcohol-free beers and wines can still be served after this deadline, but all restaurants are subject to an 8.30pm closing time. 

8.30pm closing time

As of March 1st, all restaurants and cafés in Sweden have to close at 8.30pm and may not open until 5am the next morning. That applies regardless of whether they serve alcohol.

Takeaways can be ordered after 8.30pm, but customers must keep at least one metre apart while collecting their food.

Social distancing

To ensure social distancing, restaurants, cafes and bars are required to take specific measures.


These include a one-metre distance between different tables or groups of diners, table service only, and ensuring distance can be kept at entrances and near toilets for example. These measures are mandated by law, currently until May 31st, 2021.

What if a restaurant violates these laws?

Regional authorities are responsible for carrying out inspections of restaurants, bars and cafes. 

If a venue is found not to be complying, they can be closed down until they can show they have taken the appropriate measures.

Why are these measures in place?

The Public Health Agency has said that restaurants are not thought to be one of the main environments where people catch the coronavirus, but that this is partly due to the strict measures that have been in place since the summer.

It's also difficult to know exactly where the virus is spread, and as indoor environments where people spend a significant period of time talking and eating, restaurants and bars still have an associated risk.

"Just because you can't say exactly how significantly it contributes, it doesn't mean it isn't a risk environment," said the agency's general director Johan Carlson in January.


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