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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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”