A woman dressed in black, with blonde hair, stading at a podium with a microphone. Swedish flags in the background.
Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren at a press conference. Photo: Magnus Liljegren/Regeringskansliet

Sweden and corona – in brief

Here’s a brief summary of how Sweden is handling 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 are 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 have given 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. As of January of 2022, around 82 per cent of the population aged 12 or older had been vaccinated with two doses.

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

The Public Health Agency continues to encourage the general public to get vaccinated and to monitor the spread of infection to see if any new measures are required. 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.

Restrictions and recommendations

The following restrictions and recommendations currently apply, according to the Swedish Health Agency:

*At general gatherings and public events indoors with more than 20 and a maximum of 50 participants, only seated guests are allowed. These participants must be grouped into companies of maximum 8 people, with at least one metre between groups. At religious ceremonies, standing participants are allowed.

*At indoor events with more than 50 participants, vaccination certificates must be used, together with assigned seats. A distance of one metre must be kept between parties.

*For public gatherings and events, as well as exhibitions/fairs indoors, with vaccination pass requirements, the maximum number of participants is 500. If the premises are sectioned, and participants from different sections do not get in contact with those from other sections, each section can have maximum 500 participants.

*Private gatherings held in rented premises can have a maximum of 20 participants. Funeral ceremonies and moments of remembrance are exempt and can thus have 50 participants.

*At venues serving food and drink, a company can consist of no more than 8 people. Guests must be seated, with at least one metre between companies . Venues must be empty at 11pm.

*Trading establishments must determine the maximum number of visitors based on the requirement of 10 square metres per person.

*At places with cultural and leisure activities, at least 10 square metres per person is required. There are exceptions for businesses that are focused on children and young people, such as sports practice and competitions.

*On bus and train journeys over 150 kilometres, each passenger must have an assigned seat or sleeping place.

*All adults are requested to limit their number of indoor contacts by refraining from participating in big dinner parties, parties, and similar events. Previous public advice of avoiding crowds, keeping your distance, working from home, and traveling during non-peak hours remain.

*Partially remote learning is recommended for higher education institutions, to create distance inside the lecture rooms, but will not apply as a fulltime measure. Practical classes, such as examinations, and other adult education should be continued with risk-reducing measures in place.

*Face masks are recommended on public transport if it is not possible to keep a distance from others.

More details about restrictions at krisinformation.se.

Travel restrictions due to Covid-19 in Sweden

There is a ban on non-essential travel to Sweden directly from most countries outside the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA).

Foreign nationals that are allowed to travel to Sweden must present one of the following when entering the country: an EU Digital Covid Certificate or a corresponding vaccination certificate; a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours old; a recovery certificate that confirms that you have recovered from Covid-19 during the past 6 months. This applies from the age of 18, with certain exceptions.

More details about travel restrictions and exemptions on 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 a 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 a 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 a 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 will remain in effect until 31 May 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 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.

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.