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WHAT CHANGES IN SWEDEN

KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Sweden in August 2021?

Between schools starting in Sweden and Covid-19 vaccinations opening up to more people – here are a few things to make sure you have on your radar in August.

KEY POINTS: What changes about life in Sweden in August 2021?
Children are set to return to school in August. Photo: Emma-Sofia Olsson/SvD/TT

Sweden changes to new fuel grade

E10 was introduced as the standard petrol at Swedish fuel stations on August 1st. It is made up of 90 percent regular unleaded petrol and 10 percent ethanol, a higher ethanol mix than the current standard unleaded E5 (often known as “95” in Sweden), and is meant to help cut carbon dioxide emissions. Nearly all – 94 percent – of petrol cars can use E10 (here’s a full list by industry organisation Bil Sweden).

Covid-19 vaccinations rolled out to over-16s

Several Swedish regions plan to open Covid-19 vaccine bookings to over-16s in August, after the Public Health Agency recommended that people aged 16 to 17 get the vaccine. Children aged over 12 who are in risk groups are also able to get the vaccine via their doctor.

There are 21 regions in Sweden and they’re individually responsible for their own vaccine organisation, so some regions have already opened bookings to over-16s, some plan to do it in September, and some had not announced anything at the time of writing.

Here’s The Local’s list (in English) of how to book the vaccine in each of Sweden’s regions.

Start of the Swedish school year

The 2021/2022 school year will get under way in August, although the exact date varies depending on where in Sweden you live.

In-person teaching is the default rule for schools this year, but it will still be possible for schools to close and move to online teaching in some circumstances. This includes if teachers and or students cannot be present because they are following the Public Health Agency’s advice (for example staying at home if they have symptoms), or if requested by an infectious disease doctor to curb a local outbreak of Covid-19.

It will no longer be possible for schools to switch to online teaching only for the purpose to limit crowding on public transport or on the school’s premises. This was previously an option during the pandemic to schools for over-13s.

Entry ban expires – or not

Sweden’s entry ban for non-EU/EEA travellers is currently in place until August 31st. This has been in place since March last year and has been amended and extended several times, so August 31st should not be interpreted as the date when all restrictions will be lifted.

There are several exemptions to the ban, including but not limited to people who live in Sweden, people travelling from a certain number of low-infection countries (decided at the EU level) and people travelling for urgent reasons. In many cases you will also be required to show a negative Covid-19 test, no older than 48 hours. Read more about the current rules for travelling to Sweden here (in English).

Testing guidelines for returning travellers

Many of new Covid cases being discovered in Sweden have been linked to foreign travel, so the Public Health Agency in July advised most returning travellers to get tested on arrival in Sweden, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. These guidelines are at the time of writing in place until August 31st, but these too could get extended beyond that date, or amended before the end of the month.

Sweden to dredge Lake Mälaren ports

Dredging work of the ports and passages into the towns of Västerås and Köping, which are connected to Lake Mälaren in central Sweden, was to get under way on August 1st. The Swedish Maritime Administration wants to make it easier for large ships to reach the two ports, in line with the government’s climate targets to move more freight transport from land to water.

The project is estimated to finish in 2024 and will cost around 175 million kronor (approximately $20.2 million).

What about the easing of Covid-19 restrictions?

Sweden’s five-step plan to lifting Covid-19 restrictions got under way on June 1st, and no further changes are planned for August. The next step, tentatively scheduled for September, will – if it goes ahead – see the removal of the limit on the number of people allowed at public events and public gatherings, as well as the remaining anti-crowding rules for restaurants and bars, including their indoor areas.

But whether this goes ahead in September will depend on the spread of Covid-19, which has seen a slight increase in recent days. A total of 1,855 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Sweden in the week of July 12th, an increase of around 24 percent on the previous week.

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For members

WHAT CHANGES IN SWEDEN

What changes about life in Sweden in May 2022?

May day celebrations, a possible Nato announcement, and Eurovision. This is what May has in store for people living in Sweden.

What changes about life in Sweden in May 2022?

May Day celebrations

You don’t have to wait long before the first big event of May: första maj, or May 1st is, as in many countries, the big celebration for labourers and the working classes in Sweden.

Most large cities will hold a labour day celebration on Sunday May 1st, usually organised by the local branches of the Social Democrats and Left Party.

Like many large events this year, 2022 will be the first celebration in three years, after May 1st parades were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, Social Democrat prime minister Magdalena Andersson will be taking part in Stockholm’s May 1st parade, holding a speech at Norra Latin at 15:20. The Left Party will also be celebrating, with their leader Nooshi Dadgostar holding a speech in Kundsträdgården in Sweden’s capital at 15:40.

Don’t feel left out if you can’t make it to Stockholm, though – here’s a list of all the May 1st parades organised across the country by the Left Party this year, and here’s a list of parades the Social Democrats will be attending.

Potential Nato membership

If the rumours are true, Sweden and Finland could be gearing up to announce their intention to join Nato in mid-May.

According to Iltalehti and Expressen, two tabloid newspapers from Finland and Sweden respectively, Sweden’s government has asked for Finland to delay their announcement of intention to join so that the two countries can make the announcement simultaneously, in the week commencing May 16th, when Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö is due to make a state visit to Stockholm. 

Here’s our article on the possible timeline showing the details required for Sweden to join Nato.

Eurovision

Although the Eurovision Song Contest is taking place in Italy this year, that doesn’t mean Swedes won’t be tuning in. The contest, which starts on May 10th and culminates in the Grand Final on May 14th, is a major event in Sweden’s entertainment industry, carrying on from the Mello hype which sweeps across the country every March.

This year, Sweden will be represented by Cornelia Jakobs’ Hold Me Closer, who bookmakers are currently expecting to come third in the contest after Ukraine and Italy, although she will have to qualify in one of two semi-finals first.

Sweden is currently set to perform in the second half of the second semi-final on May 12th.

You’ll be able to watch the semi-finals and the final live on public broadcaster SVT.

Sweden’s government sinks tax on petrol and diesel 

The tax rate on petrol and diesel is due to fall from May 1st, reducing the price at the pump by 1.8 kronor per litre.

Half a krona of the price cut was voted through parliament with the support of every party except for the Green Party. The government then in March proposed a further reduction of 1.3 kronor per litre. 

The temporary tax cut will expire automatically at the start of September. 

New law on returns from digital sales comes into force 

On May 1st, Sweden’s new law on consumer purchases comes into force, giving those who have sold digital goods more time to demonstrate that there is nothing wrong with the goods.   

Those who sell digital goods are also now required to make sure that security updates are made to the software for a certain amount of time. 

Postnord will only deliver post every other day 

From May 2nd, the postal company Postnord will start to only deliver post in Sweden every other day, in a decision that has brought the company widespread criticism. 

The volume of letters, the company argues, has fallen by half since the turn of the Millenium, meaning it no longer makes economic sense to make daily deliveries. 

Sweden, the company adds, was the only Nordic country left which still had every day deliveries. 

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