The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 27 November 2020

Checklist for event organisers and venues serving food and drink

The checklist below is primarily aimed at those managing an activity or business or who are planning an event. It is designed as an aid to understanding what is covered by the Swedish Public Order Act, the Communicable Diseases Act, the Act on temporary communicable disease control measures at venues serving food and drink and the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s general guidelines and regulations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Please note: This checklist deals only with the legislation relating to communicable disease control in Sweden. Depending on the event or activity, there may be other legislation that the person or body responsible must take into consideration.

Restrictions under the Public Order Act

For public gatherings and events that are covered by the Public Order Act, the prohibition of public gatherings of more than 8 people apply. However, there are several exceptions to this rule.

  • For funerals the limit is 20 participants.
  • The limit is 300 for events where members of the audience are seated with at least one metre distance to other persons. Two people from the same group may be seated closer together than one metre. The county administrative boards in Sweden decided on 23 November that the limit will be 8 people for these types of events until further notice.
  • The county administrative board can decide on lower limits for the number of participants in a specific county or in parts of a county.

Events covered by the Public Order Act

If the event is covered by the Public Order Act, the person or body responsible must have a permit. Permits are available on application from the police or, in certain cases, from the county administrative board. The Swedish Police website gives more information about the types of events and activities that the Public Order Act applies to. You can also apply for a permit on the site.

The extent to which an event is covered by the Act depends on where the event is being held and if it is aimed at the general public. Events that are covered include political demonstrations and festivals. The police will be able to give more detailed information about what events and activities are covered:

Information from Swedish Police on limitations applying to public gatherings and events (in Swedish)

Start by finding out whether your event or activity needs a permit under the Public Order Act. Remember to do this well in advance. If you do not have a permit, the police can cancel your event, and you may also be penalised.

In this context, the Swedish Public Health Agency’s regulations and general guidelines on everyone’s responsibility to prevent COVID-19 etc. (HSLF-FS 2020:12) also apply (in Swedish).  There is also a consolidated version of the regulation, which includes the initial regulation and amendments (in Swedish).

The aim of these provisions is to reduce the spread of infection. They are based on the ‘duty to protect’ in the Communicable Diseases Act which applies at all times, whether or not a person is ill with COVID-19.

This means that the Public Order Act and the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s regulations and general guidelines both apply at the same time.

Events with no limit on the number of participants

If an event is not covered by a statutory limit on the number of participants, there is no upper limit of the number of participants for the event. No Public Order Act permit is required and the police cannot intervene on the basis that there are too many participants.

However, the Public Health Agency of Sweden’s regulations and general guidelines (HSLF-FS 2020:12) (in Swedish) still apply to these events or activities. If the regulations and guidelines are followed, it may in practice be difficult to accommodate the number of participants that normally would be expected.

In this case, neither the Public Health Agency of Sweden nor the county medical officer can approve or disallow a specific event or activity from the point of view of communicable disease control. Where that is the case, responsibility for minimising the spread of infection lies solely with the business/organisation or the event organiser.

Venues serving food and drink

Restaurants, bars, cafés etc must comply with special legislation from 1 July 2020, the Act on temporary communicable disease control measures at venues serving food and drink (in Swedish).

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has produced regulations (in Swedish) in connection with this.

In summary, the rules mean that venues serving food and drink must avoid crowding and take various measures to minimise the risk of the infection being spread. If the rules are not complied with, municipalities may issue an order (e.g. requiring the business or person responsible to address crowding on the premises) or decide to close the venue.

The rules apply to venues serving food and drink to members of the public where the food and drink can be consumed on the premises. Venues that do not have a licence to serve alcohol are also covered by the rules.

Venues covered by the rules on venues serving food and drink include:

  •  restaurants
  •  bars
  •  pubs
  •  discotheques
  •  cafés
  •  patisseries/coffee shops
  •  canteens

Venues not covered by the rules on venues serving food and drink include:

  •  voluntary organisations, e.g. those serving free food and drink to homeless people
  •  venues without tables and seating, e.g. some ice-cream stalls and food trucks
  •  staff restaurants
  •  school dining rooms