New closing time: Sweden’s rolls out more coronavirus rules for restaurants

New closing time: Sweden's rolls out more coronavirus rules for restaurants
Swedish ministers and the Public Health Agency director-general on Wednesday. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
From Monday, all restaurants and cafés in Sweden will have to close at 8.30pm under rules that will shortly be put forward by the Public Health Agency.

The regulation will apply regardless of whether or not the venues serve alcohol. Sweden has previously banned bars and restaurants from serving alcohol after 8pm, but due to a loophole in the law they have been able to remain open much longer in the evening. They would now have to shut their doors completely at 8.30pm.

Restaurants would still be able to deliver takeaway after 8.30pm, the Public Health Agency confirmed later on Wednesday.

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See also on The Local:

The Public Health Agency is also preparing rules that would further cut the maximum number of people allowed in stores and supermarkets. It is also urging everyone to do their shopping alone, not with family or friends.

“After a year with this virus, we know that we must keep our distance. That's the most effective measure to curb the spread of the virus,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

“This is not the time to relax. There must be no crowding, not at petrol stations or in shops, not anywhere.”

Sweden has famously relied on more voluntary measures than many other countries during the pandemic, arguing that they are easier to keep in place for a longer period of time. But it has step by step tightened its restrictions in recent months, including a Pandemic Law that would allow it to close certain venues.

Non-essential public services are among the places that are currently closed in Sweden. Asked by The Local why the government appeared to be more reluctant to close down private businesses than many other countries, Löfven pointed at some of the measures that were already in place, such as the post-8pm alcohol ban, and said:

“I don't agree with you. During last year, we introduced measures that were very harsh, restricting restaurants, sports events, culture. We were heavily criticised by parts of society because it was too tough.

“The second point is that we cannot see a direct connection between specific measures and results. We can see countries taking the same kind of measures with different results, we can see countries with different measures and the same results. So I think as we've stated from the beginning, this is a marathon.”

Almost a year ago, Löfven urged individuals to show “common sense” (folkvett) and take their reponsibility by following the Public Health Agency's coronavirus recommendations, adding that “you can't legislate everything”.

The Local asked if the new and binding restrictions were a sign that people in Sweden were not showing as much common sense as he had hoped. Löfven said: “First, we will learn as we go. Now, we've had this pandemic for a year, so we know more what to do, and second, as I said, this is marathon. Therefore we also need to keep up and update the measures that we have decided upon – we cannot stick to one kind, let's say a year of lockdown.”

He said other countries had seen that people would not put up with lockdown for too long a period of time.

“And we did decrease the number of cases during last spring. We also decreased [cases] from late autumn to now, and now we see an increase again. We need to take new measures. We've always said we are prepared to take new decisions if required. And that's what we're doing.”

Sweden has now seen a rising number of cases for two weeks in a row, with an incidence rate of 445 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days. Some regions, like Stockholm, have introduced regional measures, including urging people to wear face masks at all times on public transport and in close-contact situations.

There have been 647,470 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Sweden to date, and 12,793 people have died after testing positive.

You can watch the press conference (in Swedish) here:


Member comments

  1. A total joke yet again. Do they not realize just about all venues were shutting down by 8.30pm, since it did not make economic sense for them to open up again later and not serve alcohol? Most restaurants derive bulk of profits for alcohol sold. So these new measures alters nothing.

  2. Wow, 20:30! What a strong, comprehensive set of actions by a responsible, absolutely trustworthy government. What’s next, will Felhälsomyndigheten staff come glare strongly at people who don’t obey mask orders, which is everyone? Maybe Tegnell, who recently learned what the R value is, will blame the invandrare again? Can’t wait to find out, while I am sheltering at home for yet more months, waiting for a vaccine jab while every American gets one!

  3. This sounded more like a cout room defence trying not to incriminate the client; rather than an actual leader making needed choices to save lives and end this sooner rather than latter. Guys the vaccine is delayed!!! You need to wake up.

    8pm for restaurants and cafes?! Are they serious?! Who exactly has been crazy and irresponsible enough to go to these places at a height of pandemic! This neatly begs the question, if gov feels this is necessary then doesn’t it rather undermine the whole strategy that the public could be trusted to be sensible? They really really cannot.

    And where is the opposition and media accountability beyond the Local??? Again this very point that Swedes apparently just go along without seeing the obvious policy problems undermines the whole premise their judgment can be relied on in the first place. Maybe the answer is they are too busy skiing this week to notice?

  4. This sounded more like a cout room defence trying not to incriminate the client; rather than an actual leader making needed choices to save lives and end this sooner rather than latter. Guys the vaccine is delayed!!! You need to wake up.

    8pm for restaurants and cafes?! Are they serious?! Who exactly has been crazy and irresponsible enough to go to these places at a height of pandemic! This neatly begs the question, if gov feels this is necessary then doesn’t it rather undermine the whole strategy that the public could be trusted to be sensible? They really really cannot.

    And where is the opposition and media accountability beyond the Local??? Again this very point that Swedes apparently just go along without seeing the obvious policy problems undermines the whole premise their judgment can be relied on in the first place. Maybe the answer is they are too busy skiing this week to notice?

  5. At the very least a lockdown ultimatum should have been announced today. Walking the streets of Stockholm, looking into shops and hairdressers, it’s clear that very few are listening to the new mask recommendations. The ”collective” effort against covid has clearly failed. Sadly, what is needed now is a ”coercive” approach. What a shame. Swedes had the opportunity to show the rest of the world that you don’t need your personal freedoms completely taken away to act responsibly. We blew it…..

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