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
Countries choose different approaches to fight the coronavirus and limit the spread of Covid-19. Here’s a brief summary of how Sweden handles the pandemic.
Expert advice, government decisions
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. Each decision is based on what’s deemed best for the nation and the population of Sweden. 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: the authorities recommend people with symptoms and over-70s to stay home rather than enforce a nationwide lockdown.
Swedish Covid-19 vaccinations started in December 2020.
- Read about the different measures that Sweden has taken at krisinformation.se.
- For business-related measures, go to verksamt.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.
These are some of the restrictions that have come into force:
- Foreign citizens need to present a negative Covid-19 test certificate when travelling to Sweden. The test result must not be older than 48 hours. More details and exemptions at krisinformation.se.
- Places like shops and gyms must limit the number of visitors so that there is at least 10 square metres per person inside. However, the maximum number of visitors must never exceed 500.
- Shops should take measures to encourage people to shop alone.
- Restaurants in shops or malls are only allowed to serve one person per table. In restaurants with their own entrance, the limit is four people per table.
- All restaurants must close at 20:30 and alcohol must not be served after 20:00.
- Private events at venues must have a limit of no more than 8 people. At funerals, 20 people can be present.
- On bus and train routes over 150 kilometres, the number of passengers must be limited to maximum half the number of seats in the vehicle.
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 responsible agencies. In a study conducted in the last week of March, two-thirds of Swedes said they had stopped travelling, meeting people and using public transport – an indication that people follow the recommendations of government agencies.
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.
There are no scientific studies showing that closing the schools would have any major impact. Nor is there any data indicating any significant spread of Covid-19 in schools anywhere in the world.
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.
Last updated: 5 May 2021