Coronavirus: What are Sweden’s new rules for shops, malls, and gyms?

From March 6th, the new tighter restrictions on shops, department stores, gyms, pools, and sports facilities came into force. Here's what you need to know.

a queue outside Ikea in Malmö
Ikea in Malmö on March 6th. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

What are the changed restrictions? 

  • New 500 maximum: The number of people in a shop, department store, gym, or sports facility must never exceed 500. 
  • Constant check on 10 square-metre limit: The 10 square-metre space per person, a restriction first brought in in January, must now be “assessed continually” by those managing shops, department stores, gyms, pools, or sports facilities. 
  • No shopping in groups: Shops must take ‘reasonable measures’ to ensure that visitors shop alone and not as a group (this does not apply to pools, gyms, or sports facilities). 

What are the exceptions? 

The 500 maximum does not apply to the public areas of shopping malls, with the Public Health Agency arguing that this is “not possible” as “there may be workplaces, healthcare facilities, and entrances to public transport which cannot be reached in any other way”. 

When will the tightened restrictions be in force? 

The restrictions came into force on March 6th and will stay in place until April 11th. 


People queuing outside the Åhléns store in central Stockholm on Saturday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Are they being followed? 

When The Local’s freelance reporter visited a large DIY and garden centre in Malmö on Sunday there was no sign that the number of people inside was being actively monitored or controlled, and many of those there were in groups of two or more. 

“An enormous amount of people haven’t yet realised that there are new restrictions. They have been surprised when coming here,” Miriam Swärdh, head of the Stockholm branch of Ikea at Kungens Kurva told the TT newswire, pointing to the long queues outside the giant furniture store. 

When the 10-square-metre-per-person rule was the only limit, the Kungens Kurva store could contain a maximum of 2,000 people, but some smaller Ikeas, such as in Karlstad, already had a limit of 500 or less. 

According to news agency TT, Gekås in Sweden’s bargain shopping town Ullared has got around the 500-person limit by erecting a wall in the middle of its warehouse, and claiming it as two separate stores. 

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