Sweden extends pandemic law for four more months

Sweden's parliament voted on Wednesday to extend the country's pandemic law for four months, giving it the opportunity to introduce further restrictions if the Covid-19 situation requires.

Sweden extends pandemic law for four more months
A sign tells visitors to a Stockholm supermarket that a maximum of ten shoppers are allowed at a time under the pandemic law. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

The pandemic law gives the government power to introduce extra measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including limiting the opening hours or number of people allowed at gyms, shops and other businesses, and in public spaces like parks and beaches.

It was first passed in December 2020 (but only actually came into effect from January), after ministers first suggested it should come into force from summer 2021, but it was fast-tracked amid an autumn resurgence of the virus.

It was this law that allowed the government to limit visitors at gyms and shops to a maximum of one per ten square metres, for example, but some of the restrictions made possible by the law were never implemented as they were not judged necessary to curb the spread of infection.

Parliament has now voted to extend the law for four months past its initial expiry date of September 30th, even though at this point there will be no restrictions in place under the law.

Also on Wednesday, parliament voted to extend the law on temporary infection control measures at restaurants, bars and pubs.

The parliament’s Social Affairs Committee also asked the government to submit a report to parliament on how the laws have been used by November 12th at the latest. Based on this, the committee will assess whether there is a reason to keep the laws in place for the full four months, and will propose that parliament repeals them earlier than January if not.

Sweden plans to lift most of its remaining restrictions from September 29th, including the removal of distancing regulations at restaurants for example, and the parliamentary vote does not change this.

However, it means that the government will still have the legal possibility to re-introduce these measures if needed.

Member comments

  1. I don’t know about the attitude of Swedes to Covid . I stayed at a Stockholm Hotel over the summer , and the place was packed with families with young children . There was no Social Distancing and the only people wearing Masks were German Tourists . I had the two Jabs in my system and still caught the Virus which made my life a misery for weeks . Thank God I had the Vaccine or I would have been dead , and I can not be the only one that got infected in that Hotel .I dont think Sweden will ever take the Virus seriously , as I know a lot of people that have caught it and just stayed at home for two weeks pooping Aspirins like I did .

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Easter holidays: What to expect if you’re coming to Sweden in 2022

Tourism to Sweden has been limited for the past two years for obvious reasons, but visitors are starting to return. And those living in countries where Covid-19 is still a thing might be in for a bit of a surprise.

Easter holidays: What to expect if you're coming to Sweden in 2022

Sweden has throughout the pandemic had a relatively light-touch approach to Covid-19 restrictions.

But from the start of this month, the disease is no longer classified as a threat to public health or a critical threat to society, the two temporary laws the government brought in to give it more powers in the pandemic have expired, and the last remaining travel restrictions have been removed. 

Entry restrictions due to Covid-19

Sweden this month did away with its non-EU travel ban, so from April 1st, no traveller needs to show proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or any other Covid-related documentation, no matter what country they live in, are a citizen of, or are travelling from.

There is also no recommendation to get a Covid-19 test on arrival. There are still testing centres in the departure area for travellers flying outside of Sweden, but the testing stations on arrival at Stockholm Arlanda and Gothenburg Landvetter have closed down.

Welcome to Sweden! 

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Sweden now Covid-19 travel rules are lifted? 

Face masks 

From April 1st, it is no longer recommended to wear a face mask when in airports in Sweden, so if you prefer to wear one, you may find yourself almost alone. 

Some airlines, such as British Airways and EasyJet only require passengers to wear masks if the end destination requires them, so you may notice the difference as soon as you get onto your flight. Norwegian lifted its mask requirement for Scandinavia in February. Ryanair, however, is still asking passengers to wear masks on all flights.  

The Public Health Agency lifted its recommendation to wear face masks on public transport when crowded at the start of February, but even when masks were recommended, only about one in ten passengers wore them. 

Again, if you prefer to wear a mask on public transport, you will find yourself alone. 

What restrictions are there in public places? 

None. At the start of February, Sweden removed the recommendation for sports and cultural clubs from arranging big events and competitions indoors, which was the last such recommendation in place.

There are no restrictions whatsoever for festivals, concerts, nightclubs, theatre performances, and all other indoor and outdoor events with a large number of participants. 

Those who are unvaccinated, whether by choice or for medical reasons are advised to avoid crowded places and large indoor events. 

What if I get Covid-19 while in Sweden? 

Even if you do get Covid-19 symptoms when travelling in Sweden, you are no longer expected to go and take a test. The only people recommended to get tested are those that work in or are being treated by the health system, and those who care for the elderly, or live in a care home.

If you get Covid-19 symptoms while travelling within Sweden, by all means take an antigen test or quick test. The Public Health Agency recommends that you should avoid contact with others even if the rapid test is negative. 

This might be a problem when you have to get a flight back home, particularly if you live in a country which required a negative test before boarding your flight.