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COVID-19 RULES

End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden’s Covid laws really means

With the expiry of Sweden's two temporary Covid-19 laws, the downgrading of the virus's threat classification, and the end of the last travel restrictions, April, officially at least, marks the end of the pandemic. We explain what it means.

End of the pandemic? What the expiry of Sweden's Covid laws really means
From April 1st, it will no longer be required to show a completed vaccination to enter Sweden from any country. Photo: Claudio Bresciani / TT

What are the two laws which expire on April 1st? 

Sweden’s parliament voted last week to let the two temporary laws put in place to battle the Covid-19 pandemic expire on April 1st.

The first law is the so-called Covid-19 law, or “the law on special restrictions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 illness”, which was used during the pandemic to temporarily empower the authorities to limit the number of visitors to shops, gyms, and sports facilities. It also gave the government power to limit the number of people who could gather in public places like parks and beaches. 

The second law was the “law on temporary restrictions at serving places”. This gave the authorities, among other things, the power to limit opening times, and force bars and restaurants to only serve seated customers.  

What impact will their expiry have? 

The immediate impact on life in Sweden will be close to zero, as the restrictions imposed on the back of these two laws were lifted months ago. But it does means that if the government does end up wanting to bring back these infection control measures, it will have to pass new versions of the laws before doing so. 

How is the classification of Covid-19 changing? 

The government decided at the start of February that it would stop classifying Covid-19 both as a “critical threat to society” and “a disease that’s dangerous to the public” on April 1st.

These classifications empowered the government under the infectious diseases law that existed in Sweden before the pandemic to impose health checks on inbound passengers, place people in quarantine, and ban people from entering certain areas, among other measures. 

What impact will this change have? 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a disease that’s dangerous to the public”, or an allmänfarlig sjukdom, people who suspect they have caught the virus, are no longer expected to visit a doctor or get tested, and they cannot be ordered to get tested by a court on the recommendation of an infectious diseases doctor. People with the virus can also no longer be required to aid with contact tracing or to go into quarantine. 

Now Covid-19 is no longer classified as “a critical threat to society”, or samhällsfarlig, the government can no longer order health checks at border posts, quarantine, or ban people from certain areas. 

The end of Sweden’s last remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions

Sweden’s last remaining travel restriction, the entry ban for non-EU arrivals, expired on March 31st.  This means that from April 1st, Sweden’s travel rules return to how they were before the Covid-19 pandemic began. 

No one will be required to show a vaccination or test certificate to enter the country, and no one will be barred from entering the country because their home country or departure country is not deemed to have a sufficiently good vaccination program or infection control measures. 

Does that mean the pandemic is over? 

Not as such. Infection rates are actually rising across Europe on the back of yet another version of the omicron variant. 

“There is still a pandemic going on and we all need to make sure that we live with it in a balanced way,” the Public Health Agency’s director-general, Karin Tegmark Wisell, told SVT

Her colleague Sara Byfors told TT that this included following the “fundamental recommendation to stay home if you are sick, so you don’t spread Covid-19 or any other diseases”. 

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For members

COVID-19 RULES

Easter holidays: What to expect if you’re coming to Sweden in 2022

Tourism to Sweden has been limited for the past two years for obvious reasons, but visitors are starting to return. And those living in countries where Covid-19 is still a thing might be in for a bit of a surprise.

Easter holidays: What to expect if you're coming to Sweden in 2022

Sweden has throughout the pandemic had a relatively light-touch approach to Covid-19 restrictions.

But from the start of this month, the disease is no longer classified as a threat to public health or a critical threat to society, the two temporary laws the government brought in to give it more powers in the pandemic have expired, and the last remaining travel restrictions have been removed. 

Entry restrictions due to Covid-19

Sweden this month did away with its non-EU travel ban, so from April 1st, no traveller needs to show proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or any other Covid-related documentation, no matter what country they live in, are a citizen of, or are travelling from.

There is also no recommendation to get a Covid-19 test on arrival. There are still testing centres in the departure area for travellers flying outside of Sweden, but the testing stations on arrival at Stockholm Arlanda and Gothenburg Landvetter have closed down.

Welcome to Sweden! 

READ ALSO: Who can travel to Sweden now Covid-19 travel rules are lifted? 

Face masks 

From April 1st, it is no longer recommended to wear a face mask when in airports in Sweden, so if you prefer to wear one, you may find yourself almost alone. 

Some airlines, such as British Airways and EasyJet only require passengers to wear masks if the end destination requires them, so you may notice the difference as soon as you get onto your flight. Norwegian lifted its mask requirement for Scandinavia in February. Ryanair, however, is still asking passengers to wear masks on all flights.  

The Public Health Agency lifted its recommendation to wear face masks on public transport when crowded at the start of February, but even when masks were recommended, only about one in ten passengers wore them. 

Again, if you prefer to wear a mask on public transport, you will find yourself alone. 

What restrictions are there in public places? 

None. At the start of February, Sweden removed the recommendation for sports and cultural clubs from arranging big events and competitions indoors, which was the last such recommendation in place.

There are no restrictions whatsoever for festivals, concerts, nightclubs, theatre performances, and all other indoor and outdoor events with a large number of participants. 

Those who are unvaccinated, whether by choice or for medical reasons are advised to avoid crowded places and large indoor events. 

What if I get Covid-19 while in Sweden? 

Even if you do get Covid-19 symptoms when travelling in Sweden, you are no longer expected to go and take a test. The only people recommended to get tested are those that work in or are being treated by the health system, and those who care for the elderly, or live in a care home.

If you get Covid-19 symptoms while travelling within Sweden, by all means take an antigen test or quick test. The Public Health Agency recommends that you should avoid contact with others even if the rapid test is negative. 

This might be a problem when you have to get a flight back home, particularly if you live in a country which required a negative test before boarding your flight. 

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