Covid officers report crowding in over half of inspected Stockholm restaurants

Covid officers report crowding in over half of inspected Stockholm restaurants
Stockholm officials said they would get police assistance to crack down on the problem. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Restaurants in Sweden's big cities are repeatedly struggling to enforce Covid-19 distancing rules, despite some of them receiving fines of thousands of kronor on multiple occasions.

In July, around half of the 480 inspections on pubs and restaurants carried out in Stockholm revealed some kind of problem related to the Covid restrictions, and 14 percent of those inspected received a fine. In Gothenburg, 36 restaurants either received a fine or had a decision pending. The fines ranged from 10,000 to 25,000 kronor.

The figures from municipal environmental administrations, first seen and reported on by SVT Nyheter, showed that some venues were being fined repeatedly. Under Sweden’s coronavirus laws, restaurants are legally obligated to ensure a minimum one-metre distance between groups of guests indoors, the groups may be no more than eight people, and distance must be maintained at areas like toilets, entrances and other risk areas for crowding.

The reports and fines related mostly to crowding in the restaurants.

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The CEO of Stockholm restaurant Ångbåtsbryggan, in the central Strandvägen location, told the public broadcaster that the problems were due to customers breaking rules rather than restaurant management. 

Monika Gerdhem, head of Stockholm’s environmental department, said to SVT: “I think it is remarkable that it should be so difficult to follow a fairly clear set of rules, one metre is very clear. And I also think it is remarkable that people, the public, do not seem to care.”

She also said that the administration would extend the hours during which inspections are carried out to after 11pm, and would get assistance from local police, in order to tackle problems that have been reported such as crowding linked to dancing later in the evenings.

“Based on what I have seen in pictures, it is a fairly extensive situation that we must have support on, with the help of the police and so on,” said Gerdhem.

It comes at the same time as Stockholm is seeing an increase in new Covid-19 cases, test positivity rate, and people hospitalised with the virus, with a 20 percent week-on-week rise in new cases reported on Tuesday, a rise that has been steady for the past six weeks.

If you observe crowding in a restaurant, bar or pub, you can report it to the local municipality, for example the Stockholm and Gothenburg municipalities have pages on their websites for making a report.


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