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Here’s what changes about life in Sweden in October 2020

Here's The Local's regular round-up of some of the things that are changing or happening in Sweden next month.

Here's what changes about life in Sweden in October 2020
The rules for exchanging old Swedish banknotes are changing. Photo: Claus Gertsen/TT

Turn back time

Don't forget to put your clock back one hour at 2am on October 25th, when Sweden and other EU member states all change to winter time. This may be one of the last times it happens – last year the European Parliament backed a proposal to stop seasonal clock changes by 2021, making it up to each individual member state to decide whether to stick to permanent summer time or permanent winter time in the future.

The matter is however still waiting for a decision by the European Council, which is made up of the leaders of each member state, who will have to vote unanimously for the change. The Swedish government has said it is not against ending the practice if there is broad support in the country or parliament.

For now, the clocks will still go back on October 25th.

Care home visits

A nationwide ban on visits to elderly care homes is expected to be lifted on October 1st.

Sweden banned visits during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in April, with some care homes implementing their own bans even before this point. The ban is thought to have helped save lives at a point when the virus swept through care homes at a lethally fast pace, but health authorities are worried that it is leading to increased isolation and loneliness among people who have not been able to receive visits from family as normal.

The rate of infection in care homes has decreased since spring, and authorities believe that they are now better equipped to handle testing and hygiene procedures. But care homes will still be required – under rules that are still being fine tuned – to make sure that visits are carried out in a coronavirus-safe way, by for example making sure that residents and visitors are aware of health and safety guidelines and have access to hand disinfectant.

“Only travel if you have to,” reads this sign on the platform for trains between Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

When can we travel to or from Sweden?

The Swedish foreign ministry currently advises against non-essential travel to Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovenia, as well as non-essential travel to countries outside the EU, EEA or Schengen. The advisory for the former six is currently in place until October 7th, but could be extended or scrapped before that date. For countries outside the EU, it remains in place until November 15th, but could again be extended beyond that.

A ban on entry into the EU via Sweden is at the time of writing in place until October 31st (some countries and categories of travellers are exempt from the ban, which you can read about here). The entry ban has been in place since mid-March, in line with EU recommendations, and as coronavirus infection rates are currently rising in many European countries, it is not wholly unlikely that the entry ban will be extended beyond October 31st.

New fee for changing old banknotes

Millions of Swedish banknotes and coins became invalid during 2015-2017 when the country replaced its money with a series of new banknotes and coins. But despite making it possible to hand in your old notes to get them replaced, there are still invalid banknotes missing to a value of 5.5 billion kronor, according to the Riksbank.

The process of redeeming your banknotes has become increasingly harder, with applicants being asked to explain how they came into possession of the notes, and it is now set to become even more difficult.

From October 1st, the administration fee for redeeming your old banknotes will be raised from 100 kronor to 200 kronor. New regulations will also come into force on that day, which means that only the person who owned the banknotes when they became invalid, or estates of deceased persons, will be allowed to redeem them.

No more than 50 attendees are allowed at public events in Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

What's happening to the limit on public events?

Sweden had originally planned to raise the limit of people attending public events from 50 to 500 as of October 1st, but it is unlikely that this will go ahead due to the rising rate of coronavirus infections in the country.

Health Minister Lena Hallengren told a press conference in late September that the proposal when it was developed was based on a low spread of infection, and while the increase in infections was still “not very steep”, she could not say when the government would decide to push ahead with the plans to raise the limit on audience numbers. “We think we're at a stage now where we don't really know which way it is going to go,” she said.

On September 29th, the government said it would make a decision on October 8th regarding whether or not to raise the limit for public events with designated seating, but that it would depend on the coronavirus situation.

It's getting cold out there…

According to the meteorological definition of the seasons that Sweden uses, autumn has arrived when the average daily temperature stays below 10C for more than five days. September has been fairly mild so far, and temperatures are expected to stay at around 10-15C well into October, so it may be a late autumn.

You can follow the changing seasons via weather agency SMHI's map. At the time of writing, it tells us that southern and central Sweden are still enjoying summer temperatures, while autumn has arrived in northern Sweden. Here's a link to a handy Swedish word for talking about a late spell of summer in October.

The best day of the Swedish calendar is here…

… and it's Cinnamon Bun Day!

Every year on October 4th, Swedes celebrate Kanelbullens Dag (Cinnamon Bun Day). Cafes, restaurants, and convenience stores across the country sell the spiced Swedish buns. The holiday was invented in 1999 by the Home Baking Council, a club of baking ingredient producers now run by Danish sugar company Dansukker, who wanted to create a baking tradition in honour of its 40th anniversary. Everyone ate it up, and here we are.

What better way to celebrate this manic bun day than to make your own? Here's The Local's favourite recipe.

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