House party in Swedish ski resort reported for violating pandemic law

House party in Swedish ski resort reported for violating pandemic law
Åre is best known for its ski resort, pictured here in late December 2020. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
A house party with more than a hundred guests in northern Sweden has been reported to police for a breach of the pandemic law.

Police were called out to the party on Wednesday evening. They said the party was located in a private home but it was unclear whether the attendees were local to the area or visiting Åre, a popular ski resort, during the winter sports break currently taking place in several regions including Stockholm.

However, there is still a question mark over whether police will be able to investigate the incident or punish organisers, because most of Sweden’s rules linked to private gatherings are recommendations rather than laws. 

“This is a private party but there is still a requirement of a maximum of eight people,” the head of the preliminary investigation, Patrick Stjärnlöf, told TT.

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“About a hundred people were at the party and two police patrols went there. It was quiet, but a lot of people. [Police] pointed out the unsuitability of so many people gathering, and the party was dissolved at 11.40pm.” 

He said that police would report the incident as a breach of the pandemic law on Friday, the first such report in the region. “There are reasons for the report, but the question is whether it is possible to investigate,” Stjärnlöf said.

The next step would be to identify an organiser, who could be fined 2,000 kronor if they are found to have organised a gathering of more than eight people. Stjärnlöf said that if an organiser is identified, they would be questioned to find out if they tried to limit the number of people attending.

In Sweden there is no legal limit on the number of people you can meet privately – though everyone is supposed to limit their social contacts as much as possible, to just members of your household or a small number of close friends, and the Prime Minister has repeatedly urged that a maximum of eight people should be “the norm” for all social situations. People who organise public events of more than eight people are breaking the law and can face fines.

Under the pandemic law, rushed through parliament in January this year, the eight-person limit applies not just to public events but also to private events if held at an events venue such as a festlokal or ‘event room’ in an apartment block or at another venue. The organisers of such events can also face the 2,000 kronor fine if they allow more than eight people to attend.


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