What changes about life in Sweden in July?

What changes about life in Sweden in July?
From Covid-19 rule changes to several new laws coming into force, we've gathered the ways life in Sweden will change this July. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT
From the next steps in the Covid-19 re-opening plan to several new laws and (maybe) even a new government, a lot of things are changing about life in Sweden this month.

Covid-19 rules: Changes to events and restaurant rules

From Thursday, July 1st restaurants and bars can stay open until 2am. For outdoor seating areas the limit on the number of guests per table has been removed, though everyone must still be seated. Indoor tables need to be a metre apart but can have up to eight people sitting at them, doubled from the previous restriction of four guests per table.

Up to 300 people are now allowed at seated indoor events and up to 3,000 for outdoor events. For events without designated seating, the limits will be up to 50 people indoors, 600 outdoors, and 900 at outdoor running events and races. These limits will also be subject to social distancing rules which means they may be lower depending on individual venues.

Up to 1,800 participants are now allowed to attend outdoor demonstrations, and private gatherings indoors at rented premises can now have up to 50 people attending. 

Authorities no longer advise people to wear a mask on public transport during rush hour. Note that in some regions, local recommendations apply, including relating to mask-wearing and travel — you should check your regional website to see what applies where you are.

And even more changes are expected on July 15th, though this is dependent on certain criteria being met, such as hospitalisation numbers and the Covid-19 incidence rate. At the time of writing, the planned changes for July 15th included removing the requirement for long-distance bus and train journeys (over 150 kilometres) to run at half capacity or lower, and removing the limits on the number of people allowed in shops and gyms per square metre.

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More people can travel to Sweden

There is currently a ban in place on travel to Sweden from most non-EU countries. But from June 30th, the list of countries exempt from the ban was extended to include Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, North Macedonia, Serbia, Taiwan and the USA.

On top of that, from June 30th, the Swedish government adopted EU regulations which mean that fully vaccinated EU travellers will be able to enter with a certificate verifying that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or recovered from a prior infection, or tested negative in the last 48 hours.  

Some people are exempted from the test requirement, including Swedish citizens and people who live in Sweden, or those travelling for urgent family reasons, like a funeral, or vital work. 

Night train to Berlin 

The private train company Snälltåget has finally opened their new night train service that takes you from Stockholm via Malmö, Copenhagen, and Hamburg all the way to Berlin. The first train left on June 27th and it runs daily until September 5th.

According to their website, it’s the first night train service to operate on a regular basis between Sweden, Denmark and Germany since the 1990s.

The train journey from Stockholm Central to Berlin Hauptbahnhof takes about 16.5 hours. If you are looking into booking the trip, don’t forget to research the Covid-19 travel regulations that apply to your journey.

Covid-19 vaccine pass

From 9am on July 1st, it’s possible to apply for Sweden’s vaccine pass or Gröna Beviset, which is part of the EU system of vaccine passes and aimed at facilitating travel between countries in the bloc. You should be able to visit the website and log in, using a digital ID like BankID if you have one.

Unfortunately, the system is currently only available to people with a personnummer, the eHealth Agency confirmed to The Local, although we were previously told it would be possible to apply with a samordningsnummer. On July 1st, the agency told us they were still looking into how people without a personnummer can apply for the pass in future.

A new government?

This one’s a maybe, but parliamentary speaker Andreas Norlén has said his goal is to have a new government in place by the end of the month.

He’ll do this by putting a new prime ministerial candidate to a parliamentary vote. If a candidate succeeds in not having a majority vote against them (they don’t actually need a majority voting in their favour, so abstentions work the same way as a ‘yes’ vote), then they will become Sweden’s new PM.

If four such votes are unsuccessful, the speaker must by law call a snap election to take place in no less than three months.

New migration law comes into force

Earlier this month, Swedish parliament passed a new migration law, and that will come into force from July 20th.

The law makes, for example, residence permits for refugees time-limited rather than permanent. Since 2016, temporary permits have been the norm in Sweden, but before that permanent permits were the default since 1984.

The new law also brings in exceptions from family maintenance requirements for Swedish and EU/EEA citizens who wish to bring their partner to Sweden, and makes it easier for people living in Sweden on temporary residence permits to have family members move to join them.

Note that if Sweden gets a new government that falls on the right of the political spectrum, this law could be short-lived. The Moderate Party, the de facto leader of the opposition, has pledged to bring in proposals for stricter controls on immigration as soon as they get the chance.

Children’s rights are strengthened

Several new laws came into effect on July 1st to strengthen children’s right. This includes the introduction of a new crime, barnfridsbrott which translates to violation of a child’s right to peace. This makes it a criminal offence to expose a child to witnessing violent or sexual crimes, with a penalty of imprisonment for a maximum of two years.

Additionally, in custody battles, the social welfare board now have the opportunity to carry out questioning of a child without their guardian’s consent or presence. And Sweden’s housing allowance (bostadsbidrag) is being adjusted so that families with children who are eligible for this benefit will be given an additional supplement.

It gets more expensive to receive gifts from outside the EU

The maximum value limit for which you can receive a gift from a country outside the EU has been lowered from 1,600 kronor to 500 kronor, effective from July 1st according to Swedish Customs.

This means that if a gift is sent to you from a non-EU country below the value of 500 kronor, you don’t need to pay customs, VAT or taxes but if its value is between 500 and 1,600 kronor, you pay VAT but no customs or other taxes.

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Retirement age rises from 2027 

The law on Sweden’s pension age changes from July 1st this year, but nothing will change in practice until 2027. The law change means that from 2027, the pension age will be raised to 67 from 63.

Authorities get additional powers for ID checks of foreign citizens in Sweden 

The immigration office can now take biometric data (photographs and fingerprints) of foreigners over 14 entering the country, and may keep these details on record even if they are denied a right to stay.

Everything shuts down

Okay, maybe not everything, but it can feel that way. July is the month most people in Sweden choose to take several weeks off to go on holiday. That means your favourite shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, hairdressers, mechanics and other services might be closed for large parts of the month, if not longer.

This is because of Sweden’s vacation laws meaning most employed people have the right to take at least three consecutive weeks off between June and August. 

Cities can feel a bit empty, but tourist hotspots will be busy. AccuWeather predicts that daytime temperatures won’t fall below 20C in Stockholm in July. Glad semester

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