Monday 4/12/21

Swedish long-distance trains will only sell half of the seats

The measures were expected to run from 14 February to reduce travel and congestion during upcoming winter sport and Easter holidays.

A view of Stockholm. Photo: David Mark.

Sweden's government on Tuesday announced plans to reduce the number of passengers on long-distance train and bus services as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Travel companies would not be allowed to sell more than half of the available seats on trips longer than 150 kilometres. Already booked tickets were exempt from the new rules, the government said.

Health Minister Lena Hallengren said that although Covid-19 vaccinations were ongoing, "new virus strains are spreading and the spread of infection is still at a far too high level with a real risk of a third wave."

Tomas Eneroth, infrastructure minister, said the measures were expected to run from February 14 to May 31, and were to reduce travel and congestion during upcoming winter sport and Easter holidays.

"Travel only if necessary, work at home if possible," he added.

More than 12,000 deaths

The announcement was made shortly before the Public Health Agency reported that the country of 10.3 million has recorded roughly 596,000 infections and 12,188 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, said roughly 4% of the population have been vaccinated with their first dose.

Sweden has gradually tightened its measures. The government, which has been granted temporarily enhanced powers to tackle the pandemic, has for instance banned alcohol sales from 8 pm, capped public gatherings to at eight people, and ordered that each shopper is allocated at least 10 square metres.