Press conference with, from left to right: Swedish Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren and Director-General of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Johan Carlson.
From left: Swedish Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren and Director-General of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Johan Carlson. Photo: Magnus Sandberg/Aftonbladet

Sweden and corona – in brief

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

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

Swedish Covid-19 vaccinations started in December 2020.

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 following restrictions apply, as of 1 July 2021:

  • Foreign nationals – with the exception of those travelling from the Nordic countries – need to present a negative Covid-19 test result when travelling to Sweden. The test result must not be older than 48 hours. The information must be clearly stated in Swedish, English, Norwegian, Danish or French. More details and exemptions at krisinformation.se.
  • Shops, gyms, indoor facilities and swimming facilities must limit the number of visitors so that there is at least 10 square metres per person inside. Companies have to display clear signage that clarifies for visitors how many people may visit the premises at the same time.
  • Indoors, a group of eight people can sit together in a restaurant.
  • At indoor events without designated seating, a maximum of 50 participants are allowed. This includes private gatherings in rented premises.
  • At indoor events where participants are assigned a seat, a maximum of 300 people is allowed.
  • At outdoor events, a maximum of 3,000 seated participants are allowed.
  • For outdoor demonstrations, a maximum of 1,800 participants are allowed.
  • For running competitions, a maximum of 900 participants applies.

The pandemic law will remain in effect until 30 September 2021.

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 give the government advice about which measures are needed to limit the spread of Covid-19 and combat the effects of the spread of infection in the community. It is then up to the government to make 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.

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 woman is sitting in front of a laptop in an online meeting.

Swedes have been urged to work from home if they can. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/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 looks slightly different during a pandemic. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

A person delivers two bags of groceries to a woman at her doorstep.

Home delivery of food has been a necessity for many. 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 woman is sitting in front of a laptop in an online meeting.

Swedes have been urged to work from home if they can. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/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 looks slightly different during a pandemic. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

A person delivers two bags of groceries to a woman at her doorstep.

Home delivery of food has been a necessity for many. 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 woman is sitting in front of a laptop in an online meeting.

Swedes have been urged to work from home if they can. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/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 looks slightly different during a pandemic. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

A person delivers two bags of groceries to a woman at her doorstep.

Home delivery of food has been a necessity for many. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/imagebank.sweden.se

Schools

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 (Folkhälsomyndigheten) has made the assessment that closing all schools in Sweden would not be a meaningful measure at present. This is based on an analysis of the current situation in Sweden and possible consequences for the entire society.

In March 2020 a new law came into force that would make it possible for the government to close down preschools and schools, should that ever be deemed necessary to limit the spread of infection. The law makes sure that there is childcare available for children whose parents have vital public functions, such as in healthcare or the police force.