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COVID-19

Sweden tightens restrictions for tourists from six countries including the US

Sweden's entry restrictions today come back into force for travellers from the US and five other countries.

a man in front of a plane at a US airport
Sweden has reintroduced the entry ban for US travellers. Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

The Swedish government last week formally extended Sweden’s non-EU/EEA entry ban until October 31st, as The Local reported last week.

There are several exceptions to the ban including those travelling for specific reasons, as well as from certain countries, but six countries were on Thursday removed from the exempt list of “safe countries”: the United States, Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and Northern Macedonia, based on a rise in Covid-19 infections in those countries. From September 6th, the entry ban applies to these countries, too.

EXPLAINED: Can non-EU travellers get to Sweden via Denmark?

That doesn’t necessarily mean all travel from those countries will be banned, as travellers may fall into another exempted category, such as travelling for urgent family reasons or if they have EU citizenship or a Swedish residence permit.

The decision to reimpose restrictions on these six countries came from an EU recommendation.

Q&A: Answers to your questions about Sweden’s latest travel rules

Sweden currently makes no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers when it comes to travel from outside the European Union, but the government hinted that further exemptions for vaccinated travellers “resident in certain third countries” may be on the way.

“There are a number of countries with which Sweden has close relations. There, the government will now investigate the possibility of exempting fully vaccinated residents in certain third countries,” Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told the TT news agency on Thursday.

“I am thinking primarily of the United Kingdom, but also the United States, even though the United States is more complex and many states have very different rules.”

Neither he nor the government’s statement on Thursday gave any indication as to when such exemptions may be introduced.

Member comments

  1. I am confused because on Krisinfo, US is still in the exemption list and the website was updated on the 2nd. https://www.krisinformation.se/en/hazards-and-risks/disasters-and-incidents/2020/official-information-on-the-new-coronavirus/travel-restrictions

    This is what it says:

    “If you are a foreign national from a country outside the EU/EEA
    There is a ban on non-essential travel to Sweden from countries outside the EU/EEA. The ban applies to foreign nationals from countries outside the EU/EEA and will remain in effect until 31 October 2021. Certain individuals who have particularly urgent needs or who are going to carry out essential services in Sweden may be exempt.
    Foreign nationals who fulfil the requirements for an exemption are advised to get tested for Covid-19 when they arrive in Sweden.

    A number of countries are exempt from the entry ban. The decisive factor is whether you live in one of the countries, not if you are a citizen. Travellers to Sweden should therefore be prepared to provide documentation showing that they live in one of the aforementioned countries in order to be granted entry.
    Exempted travellers need to show results from a negative Covid-19 test no more than 48 hours old before entry.
    Currently exempt countries and terrirories: Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macao, North Macedonia, Serbia, Taiwan, and the USA.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: What’s behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

Travellers are reporting queues over an hour long at Stockholm's Arlanda airport. What's going on and how long is it expected to last?

EXPLAINED: What's behind the queues at Stockholm Arlanda airport?

What’s the situation at Stockholm Arlanda airport? 

On Friday morning, there were queues lasting over an hour at Arlanda’s security controls. By 10am, they had been reduced to below half an hour, according to the live update the airport operator, Swedavia, maintains on its website here

Swedavia first began warning of long queue times on Monday, saying the queues were the result of a resurgence in travel combined with staffing shortages at Avarn, the contractor responsible for managing the security checks. 

“The wait times are due to a staff shortage with our security services contractor – which is caused by ongoing recruitment and absences due to illness,” the airport said on its website

What are travellers saying? 

Twitter is predictably awash with angry comments from travellers, including some well-known commentators. 

The terrorism researcher Magnus Ranstorp resorted to capital letters to bemoan the “CATASTROPHE” at the airport. 

The Financial Times’ Nordic Correspondent also compared the situation at Arlanda unfavourably with the smooth controls at Helsinki Airport

“Never seen anything like it and sounds like might be worse today. In Terminal 5 both queues, SAS and Norwegian, were well over 100 metres long,” he told The Local. “It took me 50 minutes to get through security. Don’t think it’s ever taken more than 10 in the Nordics before.” 

What should you do if you are travelling through Stockholm Arlanda at the moment? 

Swedavia recommends that you arrive “well in advance” when taking a flight. You can contact your airline here to find out when their check-ins and baggage drops open.  

Swedavia also recommends that you do everything possible to speed up the check-in process, such as:

  • checking in from home
  • packing hand baggage to make screening faster
  • checking the need for a face covering in advance
  • checking that you have the right travel documents ready 

If you can’t check in from home, Swedavia recommends seeing if you can check in using an automated machine at the airport.

What is the airport doing to to improve the situation? 

On June 15th, the airport is reopening Terminal 4, which might help somewhat, although the airport warns that as staffing is the major problem, having more space will not fully solve the problem over the summer. 

In a press release issued on Friday, Svedavia’s chief operations officer, Peder Grunditz, said opening a new terminal was “an important measure”. 

“We are now going to have the three biggest terminals back in operation for the first time since the pandemic,” he said. 

The company and Avarn are also making “big recruitment efforts” and taking “operational measures” to improve the queue situation, although the “challenging labour market” made that difficult. 

When will waiting times return to normal? 

In his press release, Grunditz conceded that waiting times were not likely to return to normal during the summer, due to the rapid growth in the number of people taking flights. 

“Even though we expect gradual improvements, the queuing situation is going to continue to be challenging during periods over the summer,” he said. 

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