Sweden will require visitors from other Nordic nations to have a vaccine pass to cross the border as it gradually tightens restrictions in the face of rising number of COVID-19 infections and worries about the Omicron variant, the government said on Thursday.
Sweden has seen new infections jump in recent days, if from levels below most European countries. It has reintroduced a limited number of measures and authorities said further steps would be needed if infections kept rising.
“The new virus variant Omicron makes it hard to predict how things will develop,” Health Minister Lena Hallengren told a news conference. “In Sweden, we are in a relatively better position, but even here infections and the burden on the health care system is increasing.”
The extension of vaccine pass rules to cover Nordic countries, hitherto the only nations not covered by the requirement, will come into force on Dec. 21.
Authorities also warned tighter restrictions may well be announced next week when the Public Health Agency publishes an update on how it sees the pandemic developing ahead.
“We need to prepare for a worsening situation,” Karin Tegmark Wisell, the head of the Public Health Agency, said.
“We may communicate further measures next week to slow down the spread of infection.”
The centre-left government has laid out a three-tier road map for its response to an increase in infections.
A number of measures have already been put into place and authorities are preparing for an extension of COVID pass demand to venues such as restaurants.
Earlier this week, Norway tightened COVID restrictions in a bid to limit the spread of the Omicron variant amid record levels of infections and hospitalizations.
Denmark has also reintroduced many restrictions, including closing primary schools in the lead-up to Christmas.