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TODAY IN SWEDEN

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
An unusually high number of people are applying for sick leave benefits due to the Omicron outbreak. Here's a picture of a drop-in vaccination queue in Stockholm. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

In stats: How Omicron is affecting Swedish sick leave

The Omicron outbreak in Sweden is reflected not only in a high infection rate but also in the amount of sick leave people are claiming from the Social Insurance Agency.

Last week the number of applications for sick leave (sjukpenning) increased to 40,000 last week, from 27,000 the week before, reports Swedish news agency TT.

Applications for disease carrier’s allowance (smittbärarpenning) meanwhile grew to 11,000 last week, the highest weekly number yet. This is a benefit paid to people who are unable to work because they may be infected with a contagious illness, for example people who are recommended to quarantine because a family member tested positive.

There were 89,000 vabbing applications – staying at home to look after a sick child – almost double that of the second week of 2021, but far below the record levels in the early pandemic, when more than 191,000 parents applied for vab in a single week.

Swedish vocabulary: contagious – smittsam

Swedish parliament cuts number of MPs over Covid concerns

The Swedish parliament has again agreed to lower the number of members allowed in the chamber at the same time. That means that a maximum of 249 members of parliament will be allowed to take part in votes, down from the standard 349 MPs.

The number of seats will be allocated in proportion to how many seats the eight parties usually have. Between March 2020 and September 2021, only 55 MPs were permitted in the chamber at the same time, but the rules were relaxed after the summer hiatus.

Everyone present in the chamber is urged to wear a face mask.

The decision comes amid rising Omicron infections in Sweden, and after three party leaders tested positive for Covid-19 after a vote and meetings in parliament last week.

Swedish vocabulary: a member of parliament – en riksdagsledamot

Sweden limits public events to 500 people

The Swedish government has formally decided to cap the maximum number of people allowed at indoor public events to 500, which will come into force on Wednesday. But if the area can be sectioned off into smaller areas, the cap will apply to each section.

People holding private events in public venues will not be allowed to invite more than 20 people, with the exception of funerals where a maximum of 50 will be allowed.

Covid vaccine passes are required at events attended by more than 50 people.

Swedish vocabulary: an event – ett evenemang

Which Swedish banks let foreign citizens apply for a BankID?

New BankID rules mean that many foreigners will no longer be able to apply for one online. And some banks have as a result blocked the service entirely for those who don’t hold a Swedish passport or national ID – which are only available to Swedish citizens.

Most other banks, however, are still able to help foreign citizens who wish to apply for BankID, by for example instead verifying their identity at an in-person meeting. The Local contacted all banks in Sweden to find out what their current rules are.

Swedish vocabulary: a passport – ett pass

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TODAY IN SWEDEN

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Nato, Nato, and more Nato: Find out what's going on in Sweden with The Local's roundup.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

Sweden’s defence minister: Nato decision to be taken today

Sweden’s government will meet later on Monday to take the historical decision to join Nato, the country’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist, has told state broadcaster SVT. 

“I can’t say exactly when the application will be sent in, but the decision is going to be taken today,” he said. 

Turkey have voiced their opposition to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.

Hultqvist said that Sweden was sending a group of civil servants to discuss Turkey’s objections to Swedish Nato membership — something Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday would not prevent Sweden joining the alliance. 

“We are going to a send a group of civil servants who are going to carry out a discussion and have a dialogue with Turkey, so then we’ll see how the issue can be solved and what the discussion is actually about. But the signals we’ve had from Nato are that there’s unanimity that both Sweden and Finland should join.” 

Swedish Vocab: avgör – to decide 

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party backs Nato bid

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party on Sunday said it was in favour of joining Nato, reversing its decades-long opposition and paving the way for the country to submit a membership application.

The turnaround comes amid soaring political and public support in Sweden for joining the Western military alliance after Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine.

The issue has divided Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s Social Democrats, with some party members expressing concern that the decision was being rushed through.

The party said on Sunday that if Sweden’s application were approved, it would work to express “unilateral reservations against the deployment of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory.”

Swedish vocab: att vara orolig – to be worried/concerned

Finland confirms it will apply to join Nato as Sweden set to follow

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö confirmed on Sunday that his country would apply for Nato membership as Sweden’s ruling party was to hold a decisive meeting that could pave the way for a joint application.

The announcement came after Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday they both favoured Nato membership, in a major policy shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Today, we, the president and the government’s foreign policy committee, have together decided that Finland … will apply for Nato membership,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Helsinki on Sunday.

“I have great feelings, of course, this is an historic day. It started in the morning when I visited the memorial service to honour Finland’s fallen heroes”, Niinistö told reporters.

Niinistö said that the decision will secure Finland’s security policy and that it “does not disadvantage anyone”.

Sweden’s foreign minister Ann Linde said the decision would have “great significance” for Sweden.

Swedish vocab: betydelse – significance 

US in support of Sweden and Finland joining Nato

The State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, Karen Donfried, and President Joe Biden have reiterated US support for Sweden and Finland joining Nato, ahead of a meeting between Alliance foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday.

In a phone call on Friday morning with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, US President Joe Biden reiterated support for Nato’s open-door policy, the White House said. He had also stressed that Sweden and Finland had the right to decide their own future.

Donfried said on Friday: “The United States would support Finland or Sweden joining Nato should they choose to do so.” A formal membership application by the two countries would be “further evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic miscalculation,” she said.

Finland and Sweden are “valued Nato partners” and “thriving democracies,” Donfried said. Referring to remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the top diplomat said Turkey’s position must now be clarified. 

Swedish vocab: att stödja – to support 

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