KEY POINTS: How Sweden’s Covid-19 rules will change in September

KEY POINTS: How Sweden's Covid-19 rules will change in September
People walking through Malmö in October last year. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
UPDATED: Sweden will lift nearly all of its pandemic restrictions at the end of September, including both laws and recommendations. Here's a rundown of what they are, and which recommendations still remain in place.

Bars and restaurants

All the remaining restrictions that apply to restaurants and bars will be removed on September 29th.

The current rules state that places that serve food and drink must take measures to avoid crowding, including making sure that guests are able to keep a distance of at least a metre to other groups of guests and not allowing more than eight people per group indoors.

These are strict legal limits, and restaurants can face fines if found in violation of them.

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Public events

At the moment, public events and public gatherings are strictly regulated with curbs on how many people are allowed to attend.

For example, seated indoor events are allowed no more than 300 attendees and seated outdoor events no more than 3,000 attendees. If the organiser can split the audience into sections, the limits apply to each section. Other limits include a maximum of 50 people at private events organised in rented premises (Sweden has never had a pandemic limit on private events or gatherings in for example private homes).

These restrictions will all be removed on September 29th.

Working from home

Sweden has since spring 2020 advised everyone to work from home if the nature of their work allows. This recommendation will also be removed at the end of September, but the Public Health Agency has advised employers to implement a return to physical workplaces “gradually”.

If an employee has symptoms, they should always work from home (or call in sick if they have to) and get tested for Covid-19, and the employer should take steps to help them work from home – note that this will continue to apply even after September 29th.

For most people, the advice to work from home was only a recommendation and not legally binding, although some public sector offices were ordered to work from home during the pandemic.

Unvaccinated people should avoid close contacts

People who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 should keep a distance from people outside their closest circle, and in particular avoid close contact with people in risk groups or aged over 70, even after September 29th.

These recommendations only apply to adults aged over 18 who have not been advised against vaccination by a doctor for medical reasons.

According to the Public Health Agency’s general director, these guidelines mean that unvaccinated people should avoid going to bars, nightclubs, and large events such as theatres, concerts, and sports events. This is because the previous laws ensuring distancing at those venues will be removed from September 29th, so it will not be possible to ensure keeping a distance there.

General recommendations for the public removed

Recommendations to avoid crowding, to meet each other outdoors rather than indoors, to practise good hand hygiene will no longer be in effect after September 29th. Note the exception for unvaccinated people as explained above.

Recommendations that applied to organisations and companies (called föreskrifter in Swedish) will also be removed, including for example rules around organised sports, rules for workplaces, and for people organising events.

The Public Health Agency said that these were no longer judged to be “motivated from the perspective of infection control or public health”.

What rules still apply in Sweden?

One recommendation which still applies to everyone in Sweden after September 29th is to stay at home, get tested, and avoid contact with others if you develop Covid-19 symptoms.

Sweden’s Communicable Diseases Act also applies, which states that individuals have a legal responsibility act responsibly to reduce the risk of spreading infectious diseases. In practice, this means that the recommendation to stay at home and get tested if you develop symptoms should not be considered optional.

Sweden’s non-EU/EEA entry ban is at the time of writing in force until October 31st, as is the requirement for certain travellers to show a vaccine pass or a negative Covid test. It has been extended several times during the pandemic, so it could be extended further or scrapped before this date.

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