On March 23, 2022, the Swedish parliament voted to revoke the temporary COVID-19 emergency legislation (known as the Pandemic Act), as well as a law on measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in bars and restaurants. In accordance with the decision, the laws will expire on March 31, 2022.
In the same decision, the parliament also voted in favor of the decision by the government to no longer classify COVID-19 as a reportable contagious disease (allmänfarlig sjukdom och samhällsfarlig sjukdom) in the Communicable Diseases Act (Smittskyddslag (SFS 2004:168) as of April 1, 2022. In its decision to remove COVID-19 from the list of reportable diseases, the government argued that the risks associated with having family members of infected persons staying home from work on a large scale posed a greater risk to society than the disease itself.
Before the adoption of the Pandemic Act in 2021, other legislation regulating COVID-19 measures was adopted in 2020 to provide the government with emergency powers to fight the pandemic, including the power to limit public gatherings and close shops. That legislation was scheduled to automatically expire on July 1, 2020. Instead, it was replaced with the Pandemic Act now being revoked.
The Pandemic Act provides that the government, or the government agency that it assigns, may limit public access to several public areas, including limiting constitutionally protected public gatherings by setting attendance limits, requiring social distancing, and limiting the time duration of the event. The law further provides that similar restrictions may be placed on stores, cultural activity organizers, and public transportation vendors. Under the rules, restrictions may also be placed on private gatherings. (7–10 §§ Lag om särskilda begränsningar för att förhindra spridning av sjukdomen covid-19 (SFS 2021:4).)
The decision also ends the temporary law on measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in bars and restaurants (Lag om tillfälliga smittskyddsåtgärder på serveringsställen (SFS 2020:526)), which was adopted in 2020 to provide local municipalities with an opportunity to adopt measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in bars and restaurants when local conditions warranted such actions.
A large majority (278–24) of members of the parliament supported the decision to revoke the COVID-19 legislation, with only the Left Party voting against the measure. When the parliament extended the Pandemic Act in January 2022, it did so under the assumption that the act would be revoked by March 31, 2022, and called on the Swedish government to propose a revocation of the act by that date. In line with this request, the Swedish government issued a proposal and the Committee for Health and Welfare recommended that it be approved.