Sweden becomes latest European nation to announce end to COVID restrictions

Swedish Priime Minister Magdalena Andersson
Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announces that Sweden will lift nearly all COVID-19 restrictions starting Wednesday.
(Marko Saavala / TT)

Sweden on Thursday joined other European nations in saying it would remove coronavirus restrictions.

“It is time to open Sweden again,” said Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

Starting Wednesday, the country will allow people to return to restaurants with no limit on how many people can be there, how much space there should be or opening hours. Requirements for vaccine certificates and wearing masks on public transportation will also be dropped, as well as the recommendation to limit social contacts.

On Tuesday, neighboring Denmark took the lead among European Union members by scrapping most restrictions. Hours later, Norway lifted its ban on serving alcohol after 11 p.m. and the cap on private gatherings of no more than 10 people.


“The pandemic is not over but has entered a totally new phase,” Andersson said.

Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren told the same news conference that authorities “will continue to be vigilant about how the pandemic will develop.”

The reason for the Swedish move is similar to that for Denmark’s: Although there is an increase in infection rates, it is not burdening hospitals. High vaccination rates are also making the situation look more hopeful. Andersson said 80% of Swedes over 50 have now received three vaccine doses.