When and how Sweden’s rules for bars and restaurants will change

From June 1st, Sweden's bars, cafés and restaurants will be able to stay open longer in the evening, but they are still subject to rules on the number of people per table and distancing. Here's when Sweden hopes to ease the restrictions, based on how the Covid-19 pandemic develops.

When and how Sweden's rules for bars and restaurants will change
From June, bars and restaurants can open later but distancing rules will remain in place. Photo: Gustaf Månsson/SvD/TT

The government is responsible for the laws at food venues, but it has given the Swedish Public Health Agency the task of deciding on what these should be.

All the planned changes below are subject to a number of criteria being met, including benchmarks linked to the proportion of the population to have received Covid-19 vaccines, the 14-day infection rate, and the proportion of people requiring hospital or intensive care for Covid-19.

From June 1st

From June 1st, bars and restaurants will be able to stay open until 10.30pm (the previous closing time was 8.30pm).

A maximum limit of four people per table will remain in place. The maximum limit of one person per table at bars and restaurants that are located in a shopping centre will be removed.

Other laws to limit the spread of infection in restaurants will also remain, such as a minimum one-metre distance between each seated group, table service only, and a requirement for measures to limit crowding at entrances, tills, and toilets as well as sufficient hand-washing facilities.

Private parties in rented premises will still be limited to a maximum of eight people by law, and the recommendation is to avoid meeting anyone outside your closest circle, including for dinners at someone’s home. If this cannot be avoided, the agency recommends meeting outside and keeping a distance from people outside your close circle at all times.

Step 2: July 1st, if the state of the pandemic allows

From this date, opening hours for bars and restaurants may be further extended. No specific time is given so this may depend on the spread of infection, but it is possible that limits on opening hours may be completely removed.

For outdoor seating areas, the maximum limit of people per table may be increased, and bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve food and beverage to standing customers in outdoor serving areas. The rule about distance between tables may be removed for outdoor serving areas.

Step 3: Mid-July, if the state of the pandemic allows

This step does not contain any planned rule changes specific to the bar and restaurant industry.

Step 4: September, if the state of the pandemic allows

At this stage, the pandemic rules for restaurants and bars will be removed entirely, including indoor areas.

This means that the requirement for distance between tables and the limit on the number of people per table/group would be removed, and opening hours would not be subject to any limits at all. 

Indoor concerts at bars and restaurants would also be allowed again.

Step 5: Unknown

The fifth and final stage in the Covid-19 reopening plan is the removal of any remaining rules and restrictions, except for the advice to stay at home if you develop Covid-19 symptoms.

The spread of infection and the burden on the healthcare system are still high in Sweden, and restrictions to curb the spread are still in place. These include for example a requirement to limit your social contacts as much as possible and work from home if you can.

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