A street scene in Uppsala (Sweden)

Sweden drops restrictions from 9 February

Sweden drops restrictions from 9 February

Portugal will waive PCR test requirement for vaccinated travellers

Two more European countries, Sweden and Portugal, are starting to look ahead and beyond the ongoing Omicron wave, by announcing the easing of restrictions. In both countries, there is still a high level of infections, however, the waves seem to have peaked already, going into a downward trend.

Has the return to normality begun?

In the case of Sweden, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced that it was “time to open up” and declared in a way that people will have to learn to live with the virus since the pandemic, although not defeated, is entering “a whole new phase”. As of 9 February, most COVID restrictions in the Nordic country will be lifted, paving the way for a return to normalcy.

Some of the measures to be removed include attendance ceilings, visitor restrictions and recommendations on masks on public transport. Vaccine passports will not be needed for a number of activities and the government intends to lift entry restrictions for the Nordic countries.

One of the reasons for lifting restrictions is the increased knowledge of the Omicron variant. Although the spread of the disease remains high, pressure on intensive care units had not changed since the start of the year.

Rather than restrictions, the authorities are taking the approach of recommendations, relying on the citizens’ self-discipline. This means that the unvaccinated should stay away from large gatherings and crowded events, and those with symptoms should self-quarantine.

The Portuguese Government announced that it will no longer require vaccinated travellers and those with a valid digital green pass to present negative tests upon entering the country. When this will enter into force was not specified, however, the current restrictions were set to expire on 9 February.

The Portuguese Confederation of Tourism (CTP) welcomed the news as highly positive.

"Less stringent measures, such as the one approved, contribute to more people travelling. With fewer restrictions, and faster and more convenient arrivals at airports, it is positive for those entering Portugal," said the president of the CTP, Francisco Calheiros, in a statement cited by Lusa news agency.

On the other hand, the cabinet determined that rapid antigen tests will now be valid for 24 hours instead of 48 hours.



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