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Lifting of restrictions in sight - a more open campus in autumn


Yesterday, 27 May, the Government presented its five-step plan for the modification and dismantling of the Swedish pandemic restrictions. As early as 1 June, the general recommendation on distance learning will be removed. However, this does not mean a return to campus during the spring semester, but this will take place gradually.

"We are now beginning to see the beginning of the end," Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said on Thursday afternoon as he presented the government's five-step plan for easing and dismantling of the restrictions.

After just over 14 months of mostly distance learning and working from home, the long-awaited announcement that Sweden is now gradually beginning to return to a more normal life was given.

"I’m very pleased with the government's announcement. This means that we now can look forward to a more open autumn, but the announcement must not be interpreted as giving a signal that we can all start seeing each other on campus next week. The spring decision states firmly that future planning must be based on a gradual and orderly return”, says Vice-chancellor Eva Wiberg.

Gradual return in autumn

The University of Gothenburg is planning a gradual return in the autumn, which may mean that not everyone will come back at the same time. The return may look different for different courses where distance learning and alternative hybrid solutions occur. Autumn teaching also needs to be adapted to the current restrictions and recommendations.

Swedish higher education institutions may need to make different assessments depending on their circumstances and current local recommendations. In the case of Region Västra Götaland, the stricter local restrictions mean, among other things, that everyone should limit their contacts, which currently apply until 6 June.

Continued home work

Two weeks ago, the government decided to extend the mandate stating authorities have to increase the number of employees working from home until 15 September, and this still stands. It means that the employees who are able to should continue to work from home.

Opening in five steps

The plan presented by the government includes five steps, the first being taken on Tuesday of next week.

What determines when and how quickly the steps can be taken is the rate of infection, the pressure on healthcare providers and what percentage of the population chooses to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

At the governmental press conference earlier on Thursday, the Public Health Agency of Sweden emphasized that the pandemic is far from over and that the spread of infection in Sweden is still high, albeit declining.

  • Step 1 will come into force on 1 June. This means, among other things, that the amount of people permitted at an indoor event is limited to 8 and to 50 if the participants can be assigned seating. Overcrowding should still be avoided. The advice on distance learning for adult education will also be removed then.
  • Step 2 is expected to come into force on 1 July, raising the amount of people permitted at public gatherings and public events. Indoors it will then be possible for between 50 and up to 300, if seated, participants to meet.
  • Step 3 will come into force provisionally on 15 July. This will remove, among other things, advice on masks on public transport and the regulation surrounding social distancing measures relating to the amount of people allowed per square meters, both indoors and outdoors. Overcrowding should still be avoided.
  • Step 4 is scheduled for September. Restrictions on participation in public gatherings and public events are removed, but special regulations on large public gatherings and public events may still be needed.
  • Step 5, currently there is no calculation on when this will occur. This will end the mandate which gives certain government agencies additional powers to increase the proportion of employees working from home. The general advice on avoiding overcrowding is removed.
  • Read more

Further reading

BY: Ulrika Lundin