Sweden updates rules on travel from Denmark, Norway and the UK

Sweden has announced changes to its rules on entering the country from March 31st, with special restrictions on Denmark and Norway lifted, and the UK subject to the same rules as other non-EU countries.

Sweden updates rules on travel from Denmark, Norway and the UK
There are changes to which groups of people can travel to Sweden from Norway, Denmark and the UK. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden on January 26th imposed emergency restrictions on travel from Denmark, Norway and the UK, partly due to outbreaks of the infectious B.1.1.7 variant in Norway and the UK. In Denmark the motivation was that many businesses and restaurants were closed there, presenting a risk of cross-border travel.

“After a detailed analysis of the Public Health Agency’s proposals, we consider that the especially strict restrictions for travel from Norway and Denmark can be removed without presenting an increased risk of transmission,” said Swedish Interior Minister Mikael Damberg.

Travel from Norway and Denmark

From March 31st, people travelling from Denmark and Norway will be treated like other EU citizens and therefore are allowed to travel to Sweden for any reason, so long as they can show a negative coronavirus test less than 48 hours old. This means they can come to Sweden for any reason, such as visiting friends, staying at their summer house, or for tourism purposes for example — but they should still follow Sweden’s rules for arriving travellers, which includes isolating completely for seven days on arrival.

Under the tighter restrictions in place until March 31st, travel was only possible if the traveller could prove they met certain exemptions, for example if they were a Swedish citizen or resident, worked in Sweden, or needed to travel to meet children under 18.

This particularly affected students who commuted to Sweden from Denmark, who were not covered by any exception, and also those whose spouses or partners live in Denmark. Another change to the rules for students means that from March 31st, they will be treated the same as cross-border workers and only need to provide a negative Covid-19 test less than a week old.

Travel from the UK

The special restrictions on travel in the UK, first introduced in December, will also be lifted on March 31st, at which point travel to Sweden from the UK will be treated the same as from other non-EU countries. This means that there is a ban on entry until at least May 31st, but some groups of people are exempt, including for example Swedish citizens or residents.

The exceptions to the entry ban for non-EU countries, which from March 31st will apply to those travelling from the UK, are slightly more generous than those currently in place for UK travellers.

Here are some of the main differences: 

  • Spouses and partners of Swedish citizens, EU/EEA citizens, or residents of Sweden or another EU/EEA country, will be eligible to enter Sweden. Under the special restrictions, the family exception only covered those visiting children under the age of 18, or children under the age of 18 visiting their parents.
  • “Highly qualified workers” whose work cannot be carried out at a distance will be allowed to travel to Sweden, whereas before there was no real window for business travel (apart from for example diplomats, those working for international organisations, seamen and truck drivers).
  • EU or EEA citizens living in the UK will now be able to travel to Sweden, whereas before they were not exempt from the stricter entry ban.

People travelling to Sweden from the UK will need to show they belong to one of the exempt categories, and will also be required to present a negative coronavirus test that is less than 48 hours old, as well as following the rules on testing and isolation which apply to everyone arriving in Sweden from overseas regardless of where they are travelling from. Proof of coronavirus antibodies or full vaccination against the virus is not accepted as an alternative.

Despite the changes, people will not be able to travel from the UK to visit friends or extended family in Sweden, for tourism purposes, or to visit a second home or summer house in Sweden for example, unless they also belong to an exempt category.

Further information

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SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

More than 3,700 flights where cancelled and 380,000 passengers where affected by the 15-day strike which hit Scandinavia's SAS airline last month, the company has revealed.

SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

“We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected by the July strike,” Anko van der Werff, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We are happy operations returned to normality again allowing us to start regaining our customers’ trust.”

According to the release, 1.3 million passengers travelled with the airline in July, which was still a 23 percent increase on the same month last year, when Covid-19 restrictions were still reducing tourism levels.

“In comparison with last month, the total number of passengers decreased with 32 percent and capacity was decreased by 23 percent, which was a result from the 15-day pilot strike,” the release read. 

Pilot unions in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, went on strike for 15 days last month over pay, conditions, and the company’s refusal to rehire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic on the same terms as before. 

The strike, which cost the airline between €9m and €12m a day, was ended on July 19th, after which it took several days to get flights back to normal

Van der Werff said company said it would now continue putting in place its restructuring plan, SAS FORWARD, and push ahead with restructuring in the US, where the company has filed for Chapter 11. 

He said these would both “accelerate the transformation process that will lead to a financially stable airline, that will be able to deliver the service our customers are expecting”.