Sweden rolls out new Covid restrictions to curb ‘record high’ infection rate

Sweden rolls out new Covid restrictions to curb 'record high' infection rate
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced new Covid restrictions, set to come into force on January 12th. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT
Swedish restaurants will be forced to close at 11pm under a series of new Covid restrictions announced by the government on Monday.

Joined by Health Minister Lena Hallengren and the directors-general of the Public Health Agency and National Board of Health and Welfare at a press conference at noon, Andersson announced a several new restrictions to curb Sweden’s “record high spread of infection”.

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“It is undoubtedly the case that the situation has deteriorated. The spread of infection in Sweden is at historically high levels,” she said.

The new rules, which will come into force on January 12th, will force bars and restaurants to close at 11pm. They also have to limit groups to eight people, seated at least a metre apart and only have table service, but vaccine passes will not be rolled out for restaurants at this stage.

Andersson said a new allmänt råd will be introduced for adults to limit their number of close contacts indoors. Allmänt råd can be translated to “general/public recommendation” and has been described by the Public Health Agency’s chief legal officer as “something in between regulations and recommendations”. There are generally no fines for violating it, but it has a basis in law and is not considered optional. Sweden’s Communicable Diseases Act requires everyone to take “reasonable precautions to curb the spread of infectious diseases”.

“I want to strongly emphasise that everyone who can work from home should do so,” said Andersson.

Indoor public events with more than 20 attendees will only be allowed to go ahead if everyone is seated and limited to groups of eight people, seated at least a metre apart. Public events with more than 50 attendees must additionally require a valid Covid vaccine pass.

Universities will not be forced to move to distance teaching full time, but they may “use it as a tool” to limit crowding, said Andersson. Exams should go ahead as before with measures in place to limit the risk of infection, according to the Public Health Agency’s restrictions.

Here’s a full list of the new measures (in Swedish) and here’s a list by The Local in English.

The Public Health Agency has also asked the government to scrap a requirement for foreign visitors to show a negative Covid test to enter Sweden, but reintroduce the Covid pass for adults. A government spokesperson confirmed to The Local that they had received a request and were processing it, but as a final decision had not yet been made, no date could be confirmed for when this may change.

Sweden last week reported its highest daily number of confirmed new Covid infections during the course of the pandemic.

According to public broadcaster SVT’s database, which collects information from official sources, the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has gone down in the past week, from 121 last Monday to 101 today. The number of Covid-19 inpatients in other hospital wards than intensive care units is however still on the increase: 917 patients according to SVT’s latest data on Friday, up from 685 on Monday last week.

Editor’s note: Andersson initially told the press conference that the new restrictions would come into force on “January 14th”, but she and Public Health Agency officials later clarified that the date had been updated and they will in fact apply from January 12th.


Member comments

  1. Introducing measures that target the whole of society and have a big knock-on effect in terms of the economy and mental health does not seem wise or evidence-based at this point in the pandemic. When evidence worldwide tells us this variant is less severe and the number of patients in the ICU is declining, what is the intention of this? Under what conditions will these restrictions be lifted? People who are vaccinated can easily become reinfected with the virus but do not (frequently) get sick enough to need any kind of medical intervention.

    We should be increasing the capacity of the healthcare system by treating medical staff better (they are burned out from the first wave of the pandemic in which done of these restrictions were used!), supporting people to take sick leave when needed, increasing ventilation in public buildings, and preventing unvaccinated people from contracting and spreading the disease by limiting their access to some areas and encouraging them to get vaccinated!

    This feels like a random, meaningless stab in the dark and inevitably, in four weeks time when this has done very little to effect the number of cases, they will simply up the restrictions again as they have done repeatedly in the past while continuing to ignore other solutions. madness!

    1. Limiting the unvaccinated? why? everyone surely knows now by now that anyone can catch and spread this thing, and that everyone will catch it one day, guarenteed and nearly everyone will be ok..

      Why limit anyone? Viral load in the vaccinated has been proven to be exactly the same as the unvaccinated, only difference is that the vaccinated ‘might not’ get as sick..

      1. Hmm, that’s not quite correct. While you’re right that vaccinated people have a similar peak viral load, they have also been proven to be infected and therefore infectious for a much shorter period of time. In addition, they are far less likely to be symptomatic and therefore much less likely to pass on the disease by coughing and sneezing etc.

        When I say “limiting”, I think it’s reasonable exclude unvaccinated people from working in close contact with vulnerable people in care and hospital settings, and other similar situations. I don’t believe in dividing up society, but it happens either way. If governments continue to trigger restrictions due to extreme strain on health care systems due to unvaccinated people needing more ICU care etc. People will begin to resent them more.

        We should encourage people to get vaccinated if we want to stop this divide. There are already many things people cannot do without certain vaccines, for example, enter certain countries or have certain jobs.

        1. I agree that vaccines are a tool to reduce the risk of saturate Hospitals. But I disagree on putting all the effort in that direction. Unfortunately, raw-data is not easily accessible these times to have a better picture, and a number of social aspects have seems to have same impact as medical aspects. One interesting thing is that Israel on Summer already reported that 70% of the infections were produced by immunised people, however statistically non-immunised infected people have more viral charge. A recent report of the Spanish health council got to the point that a person known to be immunised increase his/her number of social contacts, counteracting the effect of the immunisation. Hence, immunisation is a useful tool to reduce the exposure of the health system, it should be recommended, but the spreading of the virus should not be linked to that condition in my humble opinion.

    1. I disagree, it seems to have been very effective at limiting spread in Germany since 2G regulations went into effect there. I am hurt that the health agency seems to be accommodating people who are not following recommendations such as getting a vaccination and staying home by making public events so limited with crowding, and the people who are vaccinated and following recommendations the whole pandemic are being asked to stay home. The lack of a covid-pass is causing disharmony, as far as I am concerned.

      1. I disagree about the success of 2G in Germany. Please check the dates, the control was not possible before the last days of November, while 2G was introduced at the beginning of October. There should be other reasons (or combination of them).

        1. France, Germany, Israel, … have never seen so many infections than nowadays.

          Pass does not work at all. There is no reason it would work as contaminations are as possible when vaccinated or not.

          Covid pass creates a public discrimination without any health impact.

          Let us get back to reason.

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