Sweden becomes latest EU nation to lift local COVID-19 restrictions
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Sweden dropped all domestic COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday, saying goodbye to the pandemic and hello to the COVID-19 endemic.
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As of Feb. 9, face masks are no longer required on public transit, capacity limits are no more, proof of vaccination is not a badge of entry to eating at restaurants and fellow European tourists can travel freely to Sweden, no test or vaccination required.
“It’s time to open up Sweden,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Feb. 3. “The pandemic isn’t over, but it is moving into a new phase.”
The easing of local restrictions wholly comes as the country records high infection rates with an even higher vaccination rate. Although more than 73% of Swedes are fully vaccinated, there were nearly 40,000 new COVID-19 cases last week, according to data for the week of Feb. 7 from the World Health Organization.
Additionally, Sweden will no longer offer free mass-scale COVID-19 testing to the public, instead reserving tests for specific health care workers who display symptoms, as reported by the Associated Press, which noted that “this move puts the Scandinavian nation at odds with most of Europe.”
Even so, this week’s events mean Sweden joins a growing list of countries deciding to transition to life as we know it in an endemic, including several in the European Union as well as Australia.
At least for now though, travelers outside of the EU, including Americans, remain prohibited from visiting Sweden until March 31.
Featured photo of Kungsgatan shopping street in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Feb. 9 by Nora Lorek/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
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