Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Sweden extends entry ban for most non-EEA residents until Aug. 31 while relaxing some travel restrictions. Some domestic disruptions remain.

  • Alert Begins: 07 Jul 2020 10:52 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 21 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Date: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Sweden have extended a ban on most individuals who are not citizens or residents of the EU, the European Economic Area, or Switzerland through at least Aug. 31 as part of the country's effort to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, as of July 4, officials have also relaxed some of the entry restrictions. Citizens and residents of EU, EEA, and Switzerland, and their family members, may now enter Sweden for any reason, whereas previously entry was only permitted for individuals returning home. Also, in line with EU recommendations, Swedish authorities are also permitting entry to travelers from Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, Canada, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay. Exceptions to the ban will also be made for students as of July 4, in addition to healthcare workers, frontier workers, diplomats, freight workers, transiting passengers, and people who have urgent family matters. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against all nonessential travel to countries outside the EU and EEA until Aug. 31.

Within Sweden, individuals are permitted to travel without restriction, provided they are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Travel providers will implement strict hygiene and social distancing measures on their services. Officials are continuing to enforce a number of restrictive measures nationwide to stem the spread of COVID-19, albeit more lenient than in many other countries. Shops, catering establishments, and cultural sites are open, though they are mandated to limit the number of customers and to apply social distancing measures. Gatherings of more than 50 people remain prohibited. Employees are encouraged to work from home where possible.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Swedish government are relatively more lenient than actions taken by other regional governments in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

Advice
Postpone travel if affected by travel restrictions. Confirm flight status before checking out of accommodation and departing for the airport. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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