SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

LIVING IN SWEDEN

EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Sweden in October?

With changes to Covid-19 and travel restrictions as well as other things to look out for, here's an overview of what Sweden's October changes mean to you.

People celebrate the re-opening of nightclubs in central Stockholm
People celebrate the re-opening of nightclubs in central Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

    Sweden’s global travel advisory lifted

    As of October, Sweden’s Foreign Ministry no longer advises against non-necessary overseas travel. Throughout the crisis, the advisory has been extended and some countries had already been removed from the advice.

    The ministry’s advice against travel was never legally binding, but it has important implications, for example linked to validity of travel insurance or availability of consular help for those who travelled against the advice.

    Travel from Sweden overseas will still be affected by the rules in your destination country, so it’s important to keep up to date with regulations in the country you wish to travel to. For example, from October 4th, the UK will no longer require people fully vaccinated from ‘amber’ countries (which includes Sweden) to present a negative test on arrival, while Australia has announced plans to re-open its border for the first time since the pandemic began, although only from November.

    Changes to Sweden’s entry ban

    The entry ban on travel into Sweden from non-EU/EEA countries is currently in place until October 31st, but could be extended again. Exemptions to this ban include those living in Sweden, EU citizens, those travelling for certain purposes such as urgent family reasons and vital work, or those travelling from certain low-infection countries which are decided at the EU level. 

    It is likely that further exceptions to the ban will be introduced soon. Fully vaccinated people travelling from seven non-EU countries were exempted from the ban as of late September, and the government has said it is working on exemptions for vaccinated travellers from other countries including the UK and possibly the US.

    Events and hospitality are open again

    Most of Sweden’s pandemic restrictions were lifted at the end of September, so October will be the first month since spring 2020 with no recommendations on working from home or legal restrictions in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and large events.

    New guidelines for unvaccinated people

    While most of Sweden’s pandemic guidelines have been lifted, adults who are not fully vaccinated are subject to specific recommendations (unless they were advised against vaccination). These include continuing to keep a distance from everyone outside your close circle, being particularly careful to avoid close contact with people in risk groups, and avoiding places with a possibility of crowding. Authorities have said that in practice this means unvaccinated people should avoid bars, clubs and large events.

    These restrictions do not have a specific end date – the People’s Health Agency will keep them as long as they are “motivated from the perspective of infection control or public health”, so it is hard to say whether they will be lifted in October.

    Vaccinations offered to 12-15-year-olds

    Originally planned to start in November, the Public Health Agency is now recommending that vaccination of 12-15 year olds start in October, with many regions already having opened booking for a start date of October 11th. Vaccinations of this age group will be carried out in dialogue with schools.

    Possible updates to Sweden’s vaccine pass for foreign residents

    Many people in Sweden who lack a personnummer (personal number) have been unable to access the country’s vaccine pass, as The Local has reported.

    The eHealth Agency are due to present their plan to the government on 1st October to resolve the issue of access. When The Local contacted the agency on September 30th they were unable to share any details, but this could mean that people without a personnummer will soon be able to access the pass. 

    Several forms of pandemic compensation end

    Sweden introduced several temporary benefits and policies to support individuals and companies through the pandemic, several of which end as of October 1st.

    This means that the first day of sickness will again be unpaid (this is known as a karensavrag or ‘waiting period’ in Swedish), a doctor’s note will once again be required to receive benefits from the eighth day of sick leave or care for a sick child (VAB) rather than from the 22nd day as was the case previously, and compensation for people who belong to a Covid-19 risk group and cannot work.

    If you were eligible for these benefits, it will be possible to apply retroactively for days before October 1st even once they are lifted; to do this, you contact the Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).

    Nobel Prize announcements

    In non-pandemic news, October 4th-11th will see the winners of this year’s Nobel Prizes announced. 

    Member comments

    1. I would like to see mandatory retirement age abolished in Sweden. It has been abolished in Canada, USA, Australia and the UK. Why not in Sweden? If a person likes to do something to earn money, has the mental capacity to do so and keeps up with the latest advances in their profession, he or she should be able to work in Sweden regardless of how old they are. The exceptions might be in those professions where physical performance is essential.

    Log in here to leave a comment.
    Become a Member to leave a comment.
    For members

    ECONOMY

    EXPLAINED: Sweden’s rising prices and what’s being done to stop them

    Sweden is experiencing the highest inflation in 30 years. What's behind the price rises and what can the government do about it?

    EXPLAINED: Sweden's rising prices and what's being done to stop them

    What are the factors behind the increase in prices in Sweden? 

    The biggest single factor has been the rise in oil and gas prices, which has pushed up transport and manufacturing costs across the world, pushing up prices more or less across the board. 

    The Covid-19 pandemic has also disrupted the production and transportation of goods, leading to shortages as the lifting of restrictions releases pent-up demand. 

    Finally, most countries have been running expansive fiscal and monetary policies. The US, for instance, has so far sent out $1,400 cheques to 127 million households. 

    SEB’s senior economist, Robert Bergqvist, told The Local that Sweden if anything faced slightly lower inflationary pressure than other countries. 

    “One reason why Sweden has lower inflation is that we still have slower wage growth, because we have wage agreements that last for three to four years,” he said. 

    READ ALSO: 

    What has the government done to help people in Sweden? 

    Quite a lot. 

    In January it offered an electricity rebate of up to 2,000 kronor per month to all those hit by high electricity prices.

    On March 14th, it launched a package of subsidies for car-owners. 

    This included a pay-out of between 1,000 to 1,500 kronor to every car-owner in the country, which has cost the government 13.9bn kronor. 

    It also included a temporary reduction in tax on petrol and diesel to the lowest level allowed by the European Union. The government said that this would reduce the price by 1.3 kronor per litre. This will reduce the government’s tax intake by 3.8 billion kronor. 

    Finally, it has also a temporary increase in housing benefit for families with children, which could provide up to 1,325 kronor in extra benefits a month between July and December this year. 

    Are the other political parties satisfied? 

    Of course they’re not. This is an election year.

    The Moderate Party are pushing for a tax cut that will reduce the price at the pump by five kronor a litre for diesel, and “several kronor” for petrol.

    The Sweden Democrats party has proposed a package it claims will reduce the price of diesel by 9.45 kronor and petrol by 6.50 kronor, at a cost of 34bn kronor. 

    The only party that is against reducing fuel tax is the Green Party, which instead wants to pass 20bn kronor to households living in the countryside to help them deal with the additional costs. Subsidising fuel, the party argued, meant “filling Putin’s warchest”. 

    What about economists? 

    Robert Bergqvist said that Sweden’s relatively strong government finances meant that it could easily afford to be this generous to lessen the pain for citizens. 

    “It’s nothing that will jeopardise the very strong government finances that we have,” he said. “Sweden can afford a more expansionary fiscal policy.” 

    The only risk, he argued was that having what he called a “slightly more expansionary fiscal policy” could end up pushing prices up even higher. “It could be a bit inflationary,” he said. 

    What can Sweden’s central bank do? 

    Controlling inflation is one of the key purposes of a central bank, and Sweden’s Riksbank is instructed to aim for inflation of two percent. 

    The Riksbank’s current position is that there will be no increase in interest rates until the second half of 2024. But the prices rises of the last six months will almost certainly force it to act sooner. 

    In an interview with Sweden’s state broadcaster SR last week, the bank’s governor, Stefan Ingves, said that the bank would need to change its position. Most economists in Sweden now expect a rate rise in the second half of this year, or at the start of next year. 

    Ingves’s deputy, Anna Breman, said in a speech on Wednesday that it, now “now looks like it would be reasonable to bring forward a rise in interest rates”. 

    Will Sweden manage to get prices under control? 

    Bergqvist said he believed that the Riksbank had a relatively short window in which to act if it was to avoid the risk that high inflation expectations become firmly established among companies and wage earners. 

    “We have new wage negotiations which will start at the end of this year, and you will have new wage deals in the first quarter of next year,” he said. 

    If the unions expect higher inflation in the coming years, they are likely to push for more generous wage hikes, which could in turn lead to rising costs for companies, and so increase inflation still further. 

    “When I talk to companies and households, everyone says that we have an inflation problem, that prices are going up, and I think we haven’t seen the worst yet,” he said. “I think inflation will continue to rise. Companies say costs are rising and that it’s also quite easy to raise prices right now.” 

    If the Riksbank does not take action soon, he argued, then high inflation expectations will become more too established to reduce much higher interest rates, which could cause a recession.  

    “And that will make it much more difficult for the Riksbank to bring inflation down to two percent,” he said. 

    SHOW COMMENTS