The Swedish government has announced plans to introduce mandatory Covid-19 passes starting next month, amid rising infection rates in Europe. The passes will be required to attend any indoor event with 100 or more participants.
The upcoming introduction of mandatory coronavirus vaccine passes was announced by Health Minister Lena Hallengren on Wednesday.
Citing the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases across Europe – which has not hit the country itself yet – the minister stressed the need to be ready for the new wave of infections, projected to reach Sweden mid-December.
“The spread is increasing in Europe. We haven’t seen it yet in Sweden, but we are not isolated,” Hallengren told a news conference. “We need to be able to use vaccination certificates.”
Starting from December 1, the documents confirming a person’s vaccination status will be a requirement to enter any indoor event with 100 or more people in attendance. Sweden already boasts high vaccination rates, with 85% of its citizens aged over 16 having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. Over 81% have received two shots or more, public health data shows.
Earlier in the day, the country’s health authorities backtracked on a highly controversial decision to stop testing fully vaccinated people who showed symptoms of Covid. The recommendation was rolled out in October, leading to a 35% decline in Covid-19 tests taken.
“The Public Health Agency has decided to recommend that the regions offer testing to everyone who is 6 years and older who gets symptoms that may be COVID-19,” the health authority said in a statement.
Sweden bucked the trend among European governments in its approach to handling the pandemic, electing not to impose widespread lockdowns. Having relied primarily on voluntary measures and social distancing, the country displayed several times higher death rates per capita than its Nordic neighbors, though it still fared better than many European countries, registering some 1.18 million cases and just over 15,000 coronavirus deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.