Sweden: Measures to Address Coronavirus Pandemic

By Helena Roberts
Gamla Stan, Sweden © Ed G / Flickr

Helena Roberts

First Published: 20 March 2020
Last Updated: 19 January 2022

  • International Travel:
    • Travel Ban: A non-essential travel ban for countries both within and outside of the EU/EEA will remain in place in Sweden until at least 31 January 2022 (see here and here). Persons travelling from Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Macao, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates are exempted from this entry ban. Moreover, travellers from Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cabo Verde, El Salvador, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Lebanon, Morocco, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Vatican City are exempt from both the entry ban and test requirement provided they are able to present a vaccination certificate. See here and here for details
    • Arriving in Sweden: From 21 January 2022, travellers entering Sweden will no longer be required to present a negative COVID-19 test conducted within 48 hours of arrival. Moreover, the Government has decided to reinstate the entry restrictions that applied prior to 28 December 2021, hence a COVID-19 certificate must be presented upon entrance into the country from 21 January 2022, in line with the EU regulation. This applies to all travellers aged 18 and over, including those from the EU/EEA. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has also recommended that international travellers aged 6 or above get tested as soon as possible after arriving in the country (see here). Further details can be found here, here and here.

  • Domestic Travel: Long-distance public transport is operational, although commuters must be seated and should, if possible, use other transport methods. Moreover, face coverings on all domestic travel routes are mandatory. It is also advised to check local news and regional websites prior to travelling as local recommendations can be introduced at short notice.
  • Closures and Restrictions: From 29 September 2021 there was a modification and lifting of most coronavirus restrictions in Sweden. Hence, social distancing measures in restaurants, shops, businesses and bars were rescinded, and the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s work from home advice was discontinued. Nonetheless, it was determined that, in accordance with the COVID-19 Act and the Act on Temporary Infection Control Measures at Restaurants and Bars, until 31 January 2022 establishments should be set up so as to limit infection (see here). With the situation in Sweden worsening, the Government has taken the decision to extend the Pandemic Act, meaning that additional measures can be implemented when deemed necessary. Notably, testing recommendations and advice on staying at home has been revised since 22 November 2021 in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory tract infections; and the guidelines for contact tracing have been updated since 24 November 2021. Furthermore, crowd reducing and social distancing measures have been reinforced in all public settings, both indoor and outdoor, since 1 December 2021 and 8 December 2021 respectively. From 23 December 2021 more stringent measures have applied in Sweden including mandatory seating for all guests eating or drinking at restaurants, bars and nightclubs, and the re-implementation of work from home advice. Required spacing of 10 square metres per person at all indoor markets, shopping centres, cultural venues and recreational establishments such as gyms, galleries and museums has also been introduced. Additionally, cultural, sport and recreation associations have been advised not to organise any camps, sports competitions or other activities which involve widespread social mixing. More recently, with the burden on Sweden’s healthcare system increasing, prime minister Magdalena Anderson has announced that even more measures are to be introduced from 12 January 2022, including the closure of all licensed premises by 11pm. The measures also recommend higher educational institutions to use digital learning methods to prevent crowding and large gatherings. For more information with regards to COVID-19 infection control measures, see here and here
  • Events: The use of COVID-19 certificates at public gatherings and functions has been permitted in Sweden since 1 December 2021 in order to limit the spread of the virus among the unvaccinated population (see here). The measures require all indoor venues with over 20 participants to be seated only. Seating is to be arranged in tables with each table distanced by 1 metre and limited to 8 persons only. Furthermore, from 12 January 2022, all adults are advised to limit their indoor close contacts, and indoor public events with over 50 people now require COVID-19 vaccination certificates upon entrance. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has submitted a request to the government calling for yet more stringent measures to be introduced across the country, including a limit of 500 participants at indoor public gatherings, and a private rented premises capacity reduction from 50 people to 20 people (this request is yet to be decided upon however).
  • Economic Measures: Although the government’s response to the pandemic (in the form of closures and restrictions) led to economic downturn and unemployment, comparatively the Swedish economy coped better than many other European countries and its recovery has been faster (see here). A summary of the measures introduced over the course of the pandemic can be found here. Measures such as loan and credit guarantees, the short term work program, and deferred tax and rental payments were particularly successful in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on the economy (see here). The short term work programme, for example, covered almost 600,000 jobs in 2020 and provided the unemployed with industry transition opportunities. Looking ahead, the Budget Bill for 2022 (published 20 September 2021) proposes climate-centred economic growth, job creation, and the strengthening of the Swedish welfare system. It advances that spending should be allocated to coronavirus vaccines, testing and contact tracing programs in order to reduce the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy, travel, and other key sectors in future. Whilst some of Sweden’s COVID-19 measures have been concluded, others remain ongoing including extended purchases of securities; eased collateral requirements when borrowing from the central bank; and a reduced overnight bank lending rate (see here). Recently, with coronavirus cases in Sweden once again rising, the government (as of 8 December 2021) has decided to reintroduce some financial support measures and has prepared to support businesses affected by new restrictions which may be imposed (see here).

For further information, click here and here.

Helena Roberts is a Global Leadership Fellow at Polar Research and Policy Initiative, and serves as lead writer for the Norway and Sweden sections of both the UK-Arctic Trade and Investment Observatory and the Coronavirus Observatory.