Swedish government extends coronavirus measures for restaurants, shops and gyms

Sweden has extended several of its coronavirus measures, including restricted restaurant opening times and customer limits in shops, as a result of the current high spread of infection.

Swedish government extends coronavirus measures for restaurants, shops and gyms
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Public Health Agency director Johan Carlson. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The announcement came at a press conference with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Health Minister Lena Hallengren and the general director of the Public Health Agency, Johan Carlson.

“We need the spread of infection to fall significantly, and we need to reduce pressure on the healthcare sector,” said Löfven, warning that once again people in Sweden needed to accept “a limited, unusual Easter” without meeting people outside their close circles.

The extensions come after dozens of Swedish hospitals had to deny staff leave over Easter due to the pandemic, with sharp rises in both the incidence rate (number of new cases per capita) and ICU admissions of Covid-19 patients.

It means that municipalities and regions are asked to keep non-essential public places closed until at least April 18th. This includes for example municipally run swimming pools, gyms and museums.

As well as that, restrictions relating to restaurants, pubs and cafes, as well as shops, gyms, and museums, will be extended. That includes the following:

  • All restaurants, bars and cafes must close no later than 8.30pm
  • No more than four people are allowed per group at restaurants, bars and cafes, and those located inside shopping centres can only allow groups of one
  • Businesses must ensure that customers shop alone, not in a group
  • Shops and department stores may allow no more than one customer per ten square metres, and no more than 500 in total

These rules were originally set to expire on April 11th, and will now instead continue to apply until at least May 3rd.

Health Minister Lena Hallengren noted: “There will come a time when we can stand here and tell you about relaxation of restrictions. Unfortunately, it’s not today […] the more closely that people follow the rules, the sooner new [relaxed] rules can be introduced.”

She said the government had accepted the Public Health Agency’s request to postpone a planned easing of restrictions on museums, theatres and theme parks. This would have allowed venues like theatres to allow up to 50 visitors at events with designated seating and distancing requirements, and theme parks and amusement parks to open, and was set to come into force on April 11th.

As The Local has previously reported, the Public Health Agency has now suggested May 3rd as a preliminary date for these relaxations to be introduced, but this is dependent on the epidemiological situation.

“I know that many people are incredibly tired, but this is far from over,” said the agency’s director Johan Carlson. 

“The risk of infection is still high in the private sphere. Because of that, we need to reduce our contacts even more than we are doing today.”

Member comments

  1. This country feels like a prison due to the selfish, immoral behaviour of local Swedes. Disgusting country. Working on escape plan.

    1. Simon – are you a bot?
      I asked because these “I hate Sweden” messages appear to be automatic, and are getting boring.
      Unlike other “prisons” this one is simple to escape: Book a flight, pack bags, go.

  2. I agree with you Raytional. In the view of myself and my friends Sweden has done very well in handling Covid and it is a great place to live. There are too many comments against Sweden here and I don’t understand why unless they are trolls/automatic comments? As you say if people don’t like Sweden they are free to leave and let us enjoy being here!

  3. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if you don’t agree or like it, scroll on. I will not respond to any further replies and disable notifications so don’t bother please.

  4. The Local is an open forum of debate …it would be a pity if it becomes a mud slinging arena with personal attacks putting people off from speaking their minds and venting their frustrations. Although of course all that makes for a really good read!

    But seriously though, there is a real mental well being issue at play here. The stress from a year of bad decisions being made from government to grass root has not exactly been an immune booster!

    I cannot even imagine how it has felt for many around the world going from one lockdown to another …the sea of masks being a constant reminder of the times we live in and kids forced to lock themselves up in their rooms every day to home school. Sweden has been a welcome relief for those not directly impacted by the virus.

    So please someone explain why so many people are downright refusing to listen to what can only be described as gentle guidelines given the scale of the pandemic.

    By the way I’m not a bot ….but I sure do feel like one these days!

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Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.”