EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Sweden in December?

a crowd at a concert indoors
Planning to attend a concert from December 1st? Don't forget your vaccine pass. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Vaccine passes, a new prime minister, winter tyres and Christmas festivities. Here's what December has in store for Swedish residents.

Vaccine passes from December 1st

Starting in December, any indoor events with over 100 guests will have to either adopt a vaccine pass system, or adopt other infection control measures such as a minimum distance between guests and designated seats for those attending. It will be up to individual event organisers to decide which system they will use.

Events affected will include any indoor events with over 100 guests happening in theatres, cinemas or nightclubs, as well as concerts, sports events, dance performances, markets, conferences, demostrations and religious services.

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Shops, workplaces, school and university courses and public transport will not be affected by the vaccine pass system.

Make sure you’ve fitted your winter tyres

Swedish law states that all cars must be equipped with winter tyres between December 1st and March 31st if the weather conditions require it. If your car doesn’t have them or if they are not up to scratch (a tread depth of at least three millimetres), you risk a fine of 1,200 kronor.

Winter tyres radically decrease the risk of skidding and improve a vehicle’s overall braking capacity on slippery surfaces, reducing the risk of accidents. In general, studded winter tyres are better suited for icy roads or on surfaces with hard-packed snow, while stud-free tyres work better on roads with soft snow.

If you have studded tyres you will need to get them changed by April 15th – the last day on which they are permitted on Swedish roads (and some roads ban them all year round due to noise pollution).

Sweden gets a new prime minister

Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson was elected Sweden’s new prime minister in her second vote in parliament on Monday 29th November. She announced her new cabinet and formally took over power from Stefan Löfven on Tuesday November 30th at a skifteskonselj (change of government cabinet meeting) with the King of Sweden at the Royal Palace.

This means that Andersson’s first full day as Sweden’s prime minister was December 1st.

Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson after winning parliament’s first vote to elect her prime minister on November 24th. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

Deadline for Brits to apply for post-Brexit residency status

Any Brits who moved to Sweden before December 31st 2020 may be eligible for post-Brexit residency status, and may indeed need to apply for it in order to continue living in Sweden legally.

This applies both to British nationals and to their immediate family members, who might only have residency in Sweden through their British family member.

Holders of certain residence documents do not need to apply for the status in order to stay living and working in Sweden, but there may still be advantages to doing so. It is free to apply for the post-Brexit status, and you can apply until December 31st 2021.

Rules for UK travel change

While we’re on the topic of the UK, anyone planning on visiting the UK in December will have to follow new Covid entry rules from November 30th, due to concerns over the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Those arriving in the UK after 4am on November 30th will need to book and take PCR tests instead of lateral flow tests (also known as quick tests), which will no longer be accepted.

Travellers will need to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after arriving in the UK, quarantining until a negative test result comes back.

Any questions? Here’s our article with all the details.

Christmas festivities kick off

Finally, December in Sweden means Christmas is on the horizon. You may already have noticed the smell of saffron wafting through the streets and may even have sampled a julbord already.

The first Sunday of Advent this year was November 28th, meaning putting up your Christmas decorations is now socially acceptable.

It also signals the start of an entire month of festivities, with each Sunday between now and the 24th dedicated to cosy Christmas activities, as well as St Lucia’s Day on December 13th – celebrated, of course, with saffron-scented lussekatterhere’s a recipe.

If you’re looking for julbord suggestions for the coming month, you can check out our guides for the best buffets in Stockholm and Malmö.

Herring and meatballs not really your thing? Here are 2021’s best Christmas markets in Sweden to get you in the Christmas spirit instead.

Never celebrated a Swedish Christmas before? Here’s a guide from The Local’s archives.

The Öresund bridge between Malmö in Sweden and Copenhagen in Denmark. For the fifth year in a row, its 203.5 metre high pylons have become advent candles. Each Sunday in the run-up to Christmas, another light will be lit. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

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