Sweden scraps all Covid border restrictions for EU travellers

From February 9th it is possible to travel to Sweden from the rest of the EU without showing a Covid vaccine pass or negative test.

Sweden scraps all Covid border restrictions for EU travellers
A Swedish border officer checking the Covid documents of arrivals from Denmark last year. Photo: Anders Bjurö/TT

The Swedish government at an extraordinary meeting on Monday decided to remove all entry restrictions from the Nordic countries and other EU/EEA countries on February 9th, the same day it also scrapped nearly all of its domestic Covid rules and recommendations.

“The decision follows an assessment by the Public Health Agency of Sweden that the entry restrictions are no longer a proportionate infection control measure,” read a government statement.

“The lifting of the entry restrictions is a great relief for many travellers, not least for those living and working in the Nordic border regions. Today’s decision also reduces the burden on the Swedish Police Authority, which no longer needs to set aside staff to check Covid-19 certificates at the border,” it added.

It said the current entry restrictions for non-EU/EEA countries would however remain in place for now, “in accordance with EU recommendations regarding entry from third countries”.

This means that people travelling to Sweden from these countries will still not be able enter the country directly unless they are covered by one of a series of exemptions from the entry ban.

Such an exemption could be for example living in a so-called “exempt country”, having a valid vaccine pass issued by an “approved country”, or being a resident of Sweden.

The entry ban on non-EU/EEA arrivals is currently in force until March 31st.

A Health Ministry spokesperson told The Local last week that the entry restrictions would first be removed for the Nordic countries (although as of Monday’s decision it has been extended to the rest of the EU and EEA) as a “first step” and that more information would come.

“The government is continuously reviewing the entry restrictions introduced due to the pandemic. It is important that the restrictions do not go beyond what is justified,” the spokesperson said at the time.

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‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Europe's airports chief told passengers to leave time for delays this summer as the air travel industry struggles to meet surging demand after the pandemic.

'Arrive early': Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

“The clear conjunction of a much quicker recovery with a very tight labour market is creating a lot of problems,” Olivier Jankovec, head of the Europe branch of the Airports Council International (ACI), told AFP.

He said there were issues from airports to airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls, but insisted: “The system still works”.

READ ALSO: Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

“It’s important for passengers that they communicate with the airlines in terms of when they should get to the airport, and prepare to come earlier than usual to make sure to have the time to go through, especially if they have to check luggage,” he said.

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe – including this weekend – are adding to the disruption.

Speaking at the ACI Europe annual congress in Rome, Jankovec said airports had taken measures to improve the situation, which would come into effect from mid-July.

“Additional staff will be coming in July, the reconfiguration of some of the facilities and infrastructure to facilitate the flows will also come into effect in July,” he said.

“I think it will be tight, there will be some disruptions, there will be longer waiting times.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

“But I think that in the vast majority of airports, the traffic will go, people will not miss their planes, and hopefully everybody will be able to reach their destination as planned.”

He also defended increases in airport charges, after criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines.

Airports face “the same difficulties and inflationary pressures” as airlines, which he noted were putting their fares up, he said.

“Staff and energy is 45 percent of our operating costs, and of course inflation is also driving up the cost of materials,” he said.