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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
SKB's capsule laboratory in Oskarshamn, where capsules for nuclear waste storage are being developed. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Sweden extends entry ban for non-EU/EEA travellers until spring

Sweden has extended its border restrictions until the end of March for non-EU arrivals, and removed visitors from Argentina, Australia and Canada from the list of exemptions.

The government on Thursday extended Sweden’s current entry rules for EU/EEA arrivals until February 28th, and March 31st for people travelling from other countries.

This means that people travelling to Sweden from non-EU/EEA countries cannot enter the country unless they are covered by one of a series of exemptions from the entry ban. Such an exemption could be living in a so-called “exempt country”, having a valid Covid vaccine pass issued by an “approved country”, or being a resident of Sweden.

Some of the people covered by an exemption will still have to show a negative Covid test to enter Sweden, unless they are exempt from this too (for example if they have a vaccine pass from an approved country or are long-term residents of Sweden).

You can read more about the difference between exempt and approved countries in The Local’s guide.

Swedish vocabulary: inreseförbud – ban on entering the country

Public Health Agency decides against vaccinating 5-11 year olds

In a press conference on Thursday, the Public Health Agency announced that they do not plan on extending vaccines to under-12s. The reasoning behind the decision is the agency’s conclusion that the medical benefit for the individual child if vaccinations are extended to 5-11 year olds is small.

The agency also states in a press release that it does not conclude that vaccines for this age group would currently have any significant effect on the spread of infection, neither for children aged 5-11 or for other areas of the population.

They further state that children continue to be at lower risk of being seriously affected by Covid-19 compared with adults. Generally speaking, say the agency, the younger the child, the lower the risk.

Since October 2021, the agency have recommended vaccines against Covid-19 for all over the age of 12.

The Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in children aged five years and over, and has been recommended since the end of December for children aged 5-11 years old who are extra sensitive for respiratory infections.

Swedish vocabularymedicinska nyttan – medical benefit

Government gives green light to spent nuclear fuel repository

The nuclear waste repository will be built in Forsmark, eastern Sweden.

Nuclear waste will be protected by three layers, designed to avoid radiation from leaking out of the capsules in the 100,000 years needed for the waste to decay. These layers include a copper capsule surrounded by bentonite clay, buried deep underground in bedrock.

Critics of the proposal were concerned that there was not enough research in to how much corrosion the copper capsules could sustain before risking leakage, newswire TT reports.

Although the repository has been approved, new safety tests are required before the system can be put into practice. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) will be required to carry out a step-by-step test of the project. 

This, in turn means that the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB), the company in charge of the repository, will have to provide updated safety analysis to SSM for approval before building can commence.

Construction is expected to start at some point this decade, with completion expected at some point in the 2030s.

Swedish vocabulary: slutförvar av använt kärnbränsle – repository for spent nuclear fuel

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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