In a statement, Swedish public broadcaster SVT commented that the high spread of infection currently meant it “would not be defensible to travel the country with a large team”.
The TV spectacle was set to fill arenas in Gothenburg, Malmö, Linköping, Lidköping and Örnsköldsvik en route to the final in Friends Arena.
Instead the show will stay in Stockholm for its six-week duration, as 28 artists compete to represent Sweden in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.
The venue in Stockholm is yet to be confirmed, with SVT looking at solutions that may allow a small audience. Under current regulations a maximum capacity of 500 people would apply.
“The situation is how it is just now and we will do our best with the situation,” said Hanna Stjärne, CEO of SVT. “Melodifestivalen is a party for all of Sweden and we will do all we can to create an exciting TV show that spreads warmth and happiness when it is most needed.”
The first heat of Melodifestivalen’s six weeks of programming will be broadcast on SVT 1 at 8pm on Saturday, February 5th.
In the weeks after Christmas, Sweden has seen record-high numbers of new Covid infections, with more than 25,000 daily cases confirmed on both Wednesday and Thursday this week. This prompted authorities to roll out a series of new restrictions and recommendations this week, including early closings for bars and restaurants, capping public events to 500 people, and urging adults to limit their close contacts.