A nurse injects a syringe with vaccine into an arm.
Swedish Covid-19 vaccinations started in December 2020. Naina Helén Jåma/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden and corona – in brief

Here’s a brief summary of how Sweden has handled the Covid-19 pandemic.

During Covid-19 in Sweden, the Swedish government has presented many different measures in several areas to fight the coronavirus. Independent expert government agencies make recommendations, the government makes decisions. The decisions have all aimed to:

  • limit the spread of infection in the country
  • ensure healthcare resources are available
  • limit the impact on critical services
  • mitigate the effects on people and businesses
  • ease concern, for example by providing information.

Sweden’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been about taking the right measures at the right time, because different measures have been deemed effective at different points in time. The country’s response has been partly based on voluntary action. For example, rather than enforce a nationwide lockdown, the authorities gave recommendations: to stay home if you've got symptoms, to keep a distance to others, to avoid public transport if possible, etc.

Vaccinations

Swedish Covid-19 vaccinations started in December 2020. At the end of March 2022, 87 per cent of the population aged 12 or older had been vaccinated with at least two doses. Of the population aged 18 or older, 62 per cent had been vaccinated with three doses.

According to the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten), a high level of vaccine coverage has been the most important condition for restrictions to be removed.

The Public Health Agency continues to encourage the general public to get vaccinated. This recommendation includes children from the age of 12 and those children from the age of 5 that are extra vulnerable to upper respiratory tract infections.

Recommendations

The pandemic restrictions in Sweden, along with most of the general advice, were removed on 9 February 2022.

The high vaccination coverage in combination with the Omicron variant that is causing fewer cases of serious illness has reduced the burden on the healthcare system, according to the Public Health Agency.

Certain advice and recommendations are still in place:

  • Everyone aged 12 and older should be vaccinated against Covid-19.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others if you have symptoms that may be Covid-19.
  • Adults who have not been vaccinated should avoid congestion and large crowds indoors.

More official information at krisinformation.se.

Lifted travel restrictions 1 April 2022

As of 1 April 2022, there are no restrictions on entry to Sweden from any countries. This also means that travellers no longer need to present vaccination and test certificates when entering Sweden.

More details about the lifted travel restrictions at government.se

A healthcare worker is putting on personal protective equipment inside a tent.

One of the heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Naina Helén Jåma/imagebank.sweden.se

A man is doing push-ups with his feet on a sofa and his hands on the floor. A child is standing next to him.

Work–life balance has looked slightly different during the pandemic. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

A healthcare worker is putting on personal protective equipment inside a tent.

One of the heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Naina Helén Jåma/imagebank.sweden.se

A man is doing push-ups with his feet on a sofa and his hands on the floor. A child is standing next to him.

Work–life balance has looked slightly different during the pandemic. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

A healthcare worker is putting on personal protective equipment inside a tent.

One of the heroes of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Naina Helén Jåma/imagebank.sweden.se

A man is doing push-ups with his feet on a sofa and his hands on the floor. A child is standing next to him.

Work–life balance has looked slightly different during the pandemic. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

Temporary pandemic law

On 10 January 2021 Sweden implemented a temporary pandemic law, giving the government more legal powers to limit the spread of Covid-19. The law makes it possible for the government to take measures such as introducing limits on visitor numbers or opening times.

The pandemic law remained in effect until 31 March 2022.

The principle of responsibility

In Sweden, crisis management is built on the principle of responsibility. This means that the government agency responsible for a particular matter under normal circumstances is also responsible for that matter in a crisis situation.

In Sweden, independent expert government agencies have been giving the government advice about which measures were needed to limit the spread of Covid-19 and combat the effects of the spread of infection in the community. The government has then made the decisions. These agencies can also make certain independent decisions concerning infection control.

Trust in government agencies

In Swedish society there is, in general, a relatively strong trust in government agencies. The general public and private actors tend to follow the advice of the agencies responsible.

Since March 2020, market research company Kantar/Sifo has done regular 'Covid-19 barometers' (link in Swedish) that monitor the general public's trust, attitudes and behaviour. During the course of the pandemic, some of the most central institutions in Sweden have seen trust and support from the public fluctuate depending on the current situation.

Schools during Covid-19 in Sweden

Swedish preschools and schools for 6- to 16-year-olds have stayed open during the pandemic, with a few exceptions. The Public Health Agency of Sweden made the assessment that closing all schools in Sweden would not be a meaningful measure, based on an analysis of the situation in Sweden and possible consequences for the entire society.

For upper secondary schools in Sweden (the equivalent of sixth form or high school), there was a recommendation for partial distance teaching, which the Public Health Agency removed on 1 April 2021.