Sweden gives green light to vaccinated tourists from some countries

The Swedish government has taken the next step in slowly opening up for vaccinated travellers from outside the EU.

Sweden gives green light to vaccinated tourists from some countries
Sweden's non-EU entry ban, which is in effect until October 31st, is getting another couple of exceptions. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

The government on Thursday decided that the EU Commission’s list of approved vaccine certificates – i.e. certificates that are legally treated as equivalent to the EU’s own Digital Covid Certificate – will apply in Sweden, too, reports the TT news agency.

The Swedish decision currently includes certificates issued by North Macedonia, San Marino, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and The Vatican – but it could be extended to more countries in the future. Sweden intends to approve vaccine certificates as and when they are approved by the EU.

“This should be seen as a step in gradually and responsibly reopening travel to Sweden for vaccinated people from other countries,” said Home Affairs Minister Mikael Damberg.

The decision means that people who live in countries on the EU Commission’s list and who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to travel to Sweden without entry restrictions or test requirements, as long as they can show proof of vaccination.

The EU Commission is expected to add more countries to the list soon, including the UK. The US is more complicated due to different certificates being used in different states, reports TT.

Sweden on Thursday also updated its list of countries exempt from the non-EU entry ban. This means that tourists from Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei, Japan and Serbia are no longer exempt from the ban, but tourists from Uruguay are exempt. This is also in line with the EU’s recommendations.

The government’s decision will come into force on September 20th. It will also change the rules slightly for those who have to show a negative Covid-19 test on the border: the test can after that date be up to 72 hours old rather than 48 hours, reports TT.

The EU has also previously recommended that member states include exemptions to their entry bans for travellers from non-EU countries who are fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine, but Sweden has not yet taken this step.

Under current Swedish travel rules, entry from most non-EU countries is not permitted unless the traveller falls into one of several exempt categories. Those categories include all Swedish residents and EU citizens, as well as people travelling for urgent family reasons and certain business travel, for example.

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SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

More than 3,700 flights where cancelled and 380,000 passengers where affected by the 15-day strike which hit Scandinavia's SAS airline last month, the company has revealed.

SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

“We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected by the July strike,” Anko van der Werff, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We are happy operations returned to normality again allowing us to start regaining our customers’ trust.”

According to the release, 1.3 million passengers travelled with the airline in July, which was still a 23 percent increase on the same month last year, when Covid-19 restrictions were still reducing tourism levels.

“In comparison with last month, the total number of passengers decreased with 32 percent and capacity was decreased by 23 percent, which was a result from the 15-day pilot strike,” the release read. 

Pilot unions in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, went on strike for 15 days last month over pay, conditions, and the company’s refusal to rehire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic on the same terms as before. 

The strike, which cost the airline between €9m and €12m a day, was ended on July 19th, after which it took several days to get flights back to normal

Van der Werff said company said it would now continue putting in place its restructuring plan, SAS FORWARD, and push ahead with restructuring in the US, where the company has filed for Chapter 11. 

He said these would both “accelerate the transformation process that will lead to a financially stable airline, that will be able to deliver the service our customers are expecting”.