FAQ about the new legislation for restaurants, bars, etc
The Public Health Agency has issued regulations, supported by the Communicable Diseases Act, describing what action must be taken by restaurants, bars, and cafés in Sweden in order to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Crowds of people in queues, at tables or along buffets or bars must be avoided. Visitors must be able to keep at a distance from each other. Restaurants should primarily aim to adapt their routines to minimise the risk of disease transmission.
Below are questions and answers relating to the regulation. Further guidance (in Swedish) has been published by the Swedish Food Agency and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions.
Frequently asked questions
Which types of establishments are affected by the regulation?
Restaurants, bars, cafés, school canteens, staff canteens, catering services, nightclubs, and any other venue or similar serving food or drinks to their guests.
What does this mean for me as the manager of a business or venue that is included in the regulation?
The regulation states that restaurants, bars, cafés, school canteens, nightclubs etc. must take precaution against crowding, which could carry a large risk of transmission of COVID-19.
This means that it will no longer be possible to operate across a bar where many people gather closely together waiting to order or be served. If it can be arranged for guests to order and pick up their food at a bar or similar without any risk of crowding, that is permitted. All visitors should be seated when they eat or drink.
Establishments that are included in the regulation must take the necessary precautions against crowding. One way of doing this could be to use numbered tickets and let guests wait their turn outside the venue. Tables can be spaced out. Markings on the floor can be used to help queuing guests avoid getting too close to each other.
Self-regulation is one approach to prevent transmission of disease
All parts of society must contribute to the prevention of COVID-19, for example by staying informed and taking the appropriate precautions. The regulation for restaurants and bars place a large responsibility on those that fall under it. As part of their self-regulation they must regularly do risk assessments, including the risk of crowds of people that may contribute to transmission of disease with serious consequences for society.
How will the regulation be enforced?
As stated in the Communicable Diseases Act, all parts of society must contribute to the prevention of communicable diseases, for example by staying informed and taking the appropriate precautions. This particular regulation aims to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19; not to prevent restaurants, cafés or other venues from operating.
May the Communicable Diseases Officer order a venue to be closed if it does not follow the regulations?
Yes. One of the responsibilities of the Communicable Diseases Officers is to cooperate with the local authorities that supervise the environmental and health protection areas. After consulting with the municipality in question, a venue can be ordered to close by the Communicable Diseases Officer.
How far apart must guests be in order to avoid crowding?
It is difficult to specify what crowding means since all venues and operations are different. An arm’s length could be used as a guidance for how far apart guests should stay.
Can I go out and eat in a restaurant with my friends?
Yes, but you should avoid sitting closely together and you should stay at an arm’s length distance from the other guests when moving around the venue.
Can I order a take-out from a restaurant?
Yes, food can be ordered as usual, as long as people waiting, collecting, or paying are not crowded together.
May guests order over the counter and then sit down to be served, or must orders be taken at tables?
If it is possible for guests to order and pick up their food without crowding together, that is allowed. Guests must be seated when eating or drinking.
Will buffets continue to be allowed, where guests serve themselves before sitting down to eat?
Yes, if the guests can take their food without crowding together. If there is a queue, people should stay at an arm’s length distance from each other.
May café guests order coffee and sit down at a table of their choice?
Yes, but they must not crowd together at the counter.
May guests be seated at the bar?
Yes, it is allowed to let guests sit at the bar as long as it does not cause crowding.
Can kiosks continue to serve food through the hatch?
Yes, as long as customers do not crowd together when ordering and waiting.
Do the same rules apply indoors and outdoors?
Yes, the rules are the same for indoor and outdoor venues.
May I stand in a queue at a fast food restaurant?
Yes, but make sure you keep your distance from other customers.
Can nightclubs continue to operate?
Yes, but the manager in charge must ensure that guests can keep at an arm’s length distance from each other
Can I still drink alcohol in restaurants and bars?
Yes, but you must not crowd together with others at the bar to order drinks. All drinks must be consumed while seated at a table.
Do casinos fall under this legislation?
Yes, the rules apply if they serve food or drinks. They must adjust their services so that all guests are seated while eating or drinking, and gambling tables must be spread out in order to prevent transmission of disease.