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

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 Friday
Tax may be increased on alcohol and tobacco products in 2023 and 2024, if a government proposal goes ahead. Photo: Ari Luostarinen/SvD/TT

New rules for quarantining announced

Changes to rules for those quarantining due to infection with Covid-19, as well as those quarantining as household contacts of infected individuals were announced yesterday. Under the new rules, the following groups of symptom-free household contacts are no longer required to stay home from school or work if a member of their household tests positive:

  • those who have received a booster vaccination
  • those who have been infected with Covid-19 within the last three months
  • some key workers, providing that other measures to avoid infection are taken

Those who do not fall into these groups must quarantine for five days, starting from the day when the person in their household first started showing symptoms of Covid-19. This was previously seven days.

For those who are infected with the virus, quarantine has also been shortened to five days, as long as the person in question has been fever free and feeling well for at least the last 48 hours. This also applies to those who have not been able to get tested.

Here is The Local’s rundown of the new rules.

Swedish vocabulary: påfyllnadsdos – booster vaccination

Teachers at Internationella Engelska Skolan speak out to The Local

Internationella Engelska Skolan (International English School – IES), the free school chain that made its founder nearly a billion kronor, pays its qualified foreign teachers low wages and gives them duties they have not trained for, several teachers who work for the chain have told The Local.

Six foreign teachers who had worked at or were still working for schools run by IES spoke to The Local about significant discrepancies in salaries between Swedish teachers with local qualifications and the foreign teachers who form a large proportion of the company’s staff.

They also said that even as new graduates, they were asked to teach classes of as many as 32 pupils single-handed, and were also asked to teach subjects and age groups they had not been trained for. Two said they had been given multiple administrative jobs without being given extra time to do them.

Here’s the full article.

Swedish vocabulary: löneskillnaden – discrepancies in salaries

Proposed tax increase on alcohol and tobacco

According to a proposal by the government, tax on alcohol and tobacco products may be increased over the next two years, starting on January 1st 2023.

Tax on tobacco products such as cigarettes and snus would be increased by 3 percent on January 1st 2023 on top of price increases due to changes in the consumer price index (CPI), with a further 1 percent price increase on January 1st 2024, if the proposal is approved.

A tax increase is also proposed for beer, wine, “other yeasted drinks than beer or wine” as well as mellanklassprodukter – drinks such as madeira, sherry or port. If approved, there would be a 5 percent increase on tax for these products from January 1st 2023, with another 7.6 percent increase occuring on January 1st 2024.

Spirits are also included in the proposal, with a 1 percent increase on January 1st 2023 and another 1 percent increase on January 1st 2024.

Swedish vocabulary: jästa drycker – yeasted drinks

Government’s electricity rebate clarified

The government’s planned electricity rebate, announced earlier this month, was clarified in a press conference on Thursday. The rebate – if passed by parliament – would compensate those using at least than 700 kWh per month in December, January or February, with the maximum of 2,000 kronor a month given to those using at least 2,000 kWh.

As compensation is based on usage rather than price of energy bills, those living in areas with cheaper electricity – such as Norrland – may even end up paying less for December 2021 than they did in December 2020, TT reports.

In the two most northerly electricity price areas, the bill for a detached house using 2,000 kWh in December 2021 came out to around 3,825 kronor. In 2020, this was 2,575 kronor, meaning that – with a rebate of 2,000 kronor – their bill for December 2021 would come to 1,825 kronor.

In the south of Sweden – where electricity is more expensive – a bill using 2,000 kWh cost 7,025 kronor in December 2021, and just 3,050 kronor in December 2020, meaning that – even with the rebate – their bill for December 2021 will be more expensive than the year before.

Interested in how much you may be able to get? Here’s The Local’s guide.

Swedish vocabulary: elprisstödet – electricity rebate

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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