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28 Jun, 2021 15:36

Sweden poised to lift some Covid restrictions from July 1 as cases fall

Sweden poised to lift some Covid restrictions from July 1 as cases fall

From July 1, Sweden will relax some of its Covid-19 restrictions, including removing curfews and increasing the number of people allowed into venues, as its infection rates continue to decline and more people opt for vaccination.

Health Minister Lena Hallengren announced on Monday that Swedes can expect to take one step forward closer to normality by the end of this week. The decision to ease protection measures comes as case rates have fallen, with the reproduction rate of the virus dropping to 0.89 as more people have been vaccinated. As a result, Hallengren announced that, “from Thursday, life can start to go back to a little bit more like it was before the pandemic.”

The government will unlock the country in phases, moving it first to an eased ‘stage 2’ level on July 1. The guidance from its Public Health Agency (PHA) for this stage means the number of spectators at outdoor stadiums can increase from 500 to 3,000, though all attendees must remain seated.

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Another change due to be made pertains to the hospitality and events sector, with restaurants and pubs no longer restricted to a 10.30pm curfew and no limits being imposed on the numbers who may share a table outside. The recommendation to mingle only with those in one’s family or who are immediate contacts will also be scrapped, although meeting outdoors rather than indoors will still be encouraged.

Stage 3 is expected to follow later in the month, with social distancing limits on the number of people allowed to meet both indoors or outdoors lifted, and Stage 4 is anticipated to be implemented by the fall. This phase will see the removal of all limits on public and private gatherings. The final step, stage 5, will lift all the remaining restrictions.

Sweden took a relaxed approach to the outbreak of coronavirus in 2020 compared to other European countries, and did not impose a lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, relying instead on its citizens’ voluntary efforts. However, it was the last among its Nordic neighbors to begin easing restrictions on June 1. Iceland fully lifted its domestic Covid curbs on June 26.

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Over the course of the pandemic, Sweden recorded 1.09 million cases and 14,619 deaths, according to the PHA. As of June 26, 26.6% of its population had been fully vaccinated.

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