Policy responses for Sweden - HSRM

Sweden


Policy responses for Sweden

6. Measures in other sectors

6.1 Measures in other sectors

Many MEASURES IN OTHER SECTORS beyond the immediate scope of the health system are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus. This section contains information on many of these areas, including border and travel restrictions and economic and fiscal measures, among others.

Borders and mobility

As of April 16th, the provisional entry ban to Sweden from non-EEA countries and Switzerland is extended through to May 15th. This ban is, however, not applicable to Swedish citizens nor people residing in Sweden returning home. Also people of certain importance, such as diplomats, people with protection status, and people performing crucial functions, such as health care personnel or people transporting goods, are excluded from the ban. There are currently no restrictions on internal travel; however, the Public Health Agency encourages the public to avoid unnecessary travel, especially to the metropolitan areas. On June 12th The government decided to extend the temporary entry ban to the EU via Sweden until 30 June 2020. The decision was made on the recommendation of the European Commission. From June 30th, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs withdrew the recommendation for unnecessary trips to the following countries: Belgium, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain.

Since 29 July, the policy of dissuading people from unnecessary travel to Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic has been lifted. In previous decisions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised against travel to: Andorra, Belgium, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Monaco, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Germany, Hungary and the Vatican City. For the other countries within the EU, the EEA (European Economic Area) and the Schengen area, as well as the United Kingdom, the policy of dissuading people from unnecessary travel was extended to 12 August 2020. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs  previously made decisions on dissuading people from unnecessary travel to other countries - outside the EU, EEA, Schengen and the United Kingdom – valid until 31 August 2020. This decision still applies.

For official travel advice see:
https://www.regeringen.se/uds-reseinformation/ 
https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/nyheter-och-press/nyhetsarkiv/2020/mars/tank-over-om-resan-verkligen-ar-nodvandig/

Economy

The government have presented several measures to mitigate the economic effects on society. Overall, these measures are intended to provide greater security for those affected by the pandemic by limiting the spread of the virus, combating the effects on businesses and jobs, and providing financial security and transition opportunities for those who become unemployed. They are also intended to create the conditions for recovery after the crisis. To mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic, the Riksbank (central bank) has implemented a number of measures. One of the aims is to supply liquidity so that companies still have access to credit. Riksbank is also purchasing government, municipal, mortgage and corporate bonds and commercial paper up to SEK 300 billion.
• March 13th, the government declares that there is no shortage of food supply, it will continue to maintain a close dialogue with responsible agencies and different sectors of industry.
• March 16th, a crisis package is presented to alleviate the impact on jobs and the economy. In order to tackle rising unemployment, more funding is proposed to the Swedish Public Employment Service. Funds are also being provided to enable more people to participate in measures that lead to jobs through labour market policy programmes. An example of measures is that the state will temporarily cover the entire cost of employers' sick pay, during April and May. Self-employed persons are also reimbursed through the sickness benefit.
• March 25th, a crisis package is presented for small and medium-sized enterprises making it easier for these companies to access financing.

Another type of measure to mitigate the negative economic effects concerns allocations to education and higher education.
• March 30th. The government presents further measures to mitigate the economic consequences of the outbreak. In order to meet an increased need for training and change in the labour market, a number of initiatives are proposed.
- 1500 more places at regional “Yrkesvux”, (vocational training for adults) in 2020.
- 5000 more places in higher vocational education; the government is also invests in order to strengthened the higher vocational training colleges’ online teaching.
- 500 year places on the folk high school's general course, which gives adults the opportunity to complete primary and secondary school, as well as vocational education at upper secondary and post-secondary level. The state is responsible for the entire cost of these sites and no regional co-financing will be needed.
- Strengthening education by study associations
- 2600 more places at universities
• May 15th. The government is investing SEK 60 million to enable universities and colleges to strengthen their distance education and offer more open network-based education to meet the pandemic’s impact on the labour market.
• May 16th. In order to make it easier for more people to study, the government proposes changes to the start-up support through an eased unemployment condition and delayed allowance. In addition, it proposed to invest in more places at universities and colleges and lifelong learning. In the coming years, more people are expected to apply to university to begin a course or to retrain and develop previous skills. The government proposes that SEK 112 million (SEK 156 million including study funding) be distributed to the higher education institutions to enable more people to study at universities and colleges. From 2021, SEK 225 million is estimated for the investment (SEK 312 million including study funding).
• May 17th. The government is now proposing a SEK 30 million investment in short courses that can give people who have been laid off the opportunity to further their education during the layoff period.

State aid

There have been several efforts to support individuals in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. These measures include incentives to stay at home in the event of illness and housing relief. 
• March 11th. The government announced that the sickness benefit will be paid from the first day of illness. Before that, employees received no compensation for the first day.
• March 14th. The government announced that the medical certificate requirement during sick pay period is to be temporary abolished. Previously, employees were required to submit a medical certificate from the eighth calendar day of a sick pay period. 
• March 30th. The government proposed a temporary reinforcement of unemployment insurance. The requirements to be able to receive remuneration will be temporarily lowered concerning how much people need to have worked and how long people need to have been a member of a fund. In addition, the proposal includes a temporarily increase of the highest and lowest amounts paid out by an unemployment insurance fund.
• April 2nd. Sweden's financial supervisory authority announced that mortgagors can be offered an exemption from the amortisation requirements. It is up to the banks to decide if a household should be granted an amortisation exemption. The exemption will be in force until the end of June 2021.
• April 22nd. The government has presented a number of temporary measures with the aim of giving more people unemployment benefits, including changed membership conditions and easing of the working conditions. In addition, unemployment insurance compensation levels have been increased.

To support the business sector, the government has presented several measures to alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The measures include short-term layoffs, loan guarantees, reduction of employers’ social security contributions, and postponement of value added tax (VAT) and other taxes.
• March 16th. The government introduced a measure for short-term layoffs. The measure means that employees working hours can be reduced up to 40% while receive at least 92.5% of their wage. The employers’ wage costs can be cut to half, and central government will cover a larger share of the costs.
• March 16th. The central government will cover the entire cost of all sick pay during April and May.
• March 16th. The government proposed a temporary liquidity reinforcement via tax accounts. Companies can defer the payment of employers’ social security contributions, preliminary tax on salaries and VAT that are reported monthly or quarterly for three months and is granted for up to 12 months.
• March 25th. A government loan guarantee proposed to increase access to financing for small and medium-sized companies. The proposal means that banks which provide new loans for companies with financial difficulties due to COVID-19 but that are otherwise robust, will be guaranteed 70% of the loan from the government. The guarantee will be issued to banks, which in turn will provide guaranteed loans to companies.
• March 25th. The government proposed a temporary reduction of employers’ social security contributions. The reduction means that only the old age pension contribution is paid for up 30 employees and applies for the period 1 March to 30 June 2020.
• March 25th. The government proposed providing support that aims to facilitate and speed up renegotiation of rents for companies in sectors such as durable consumer goods, hotels and restaurants. The central government will cover 50% of the rental reduction up to 50% of the fixed rent.
• April 1st. The government proposed to allocate SEK 100 million in 2020 to civil society organizations' working with domestic violence and children, young people, LGBT-persons and women in vulnerable situations.
• April 3rd. Payroll taxes will be lowered between 1 March and 30 June 2020. A reduction of self-employment taxes is also introduced to provide a corresponding relief to individual traders.
The government has also introduced new rules that allow 100% of the taxable profit for 2019 to be deducted from the accrual fund, up to a ceiling of SEK 1 million. As a result, many entrepreneurs can get back preliminary tax that they paid in 2019. The proposal concerns individual traders and natural persons who are partners in Swedish trading companies.
• April 7th.  A new law was introduced, allowing that companies can receive financial support from the state for letting staff go down during working hours instead of dismissing them. The support, which can be approved retroactively from March 16th, means that companies' personnel costs can be halved at the same time as employees are allowed to retain more than 90% of their salary. The government has also announced that the support will be further strengthened during May, June and July so that the company's personnel costs can be reduced further.
• April 9th, the government proposes an increase in the expenditure ceiling with SEK 350 billion in the Spring Fiscal Policy Bill. This Bill will include amending budgets with government grants for state agencies and municipalities to compensate for extraordinary costs and relief of the financial burden for companies. Several of the proposed measures have already entered into force.
• April 14th. It is proposed that the temporary system of short-term layoffs will be reinforced. Employers will be able to reduce the wage costs for an employee by over 70%. This measure will apply for three months from May 1st 2020.
• April 16th. Temporary discount for rental costs in exposed industries are introduced. The support means that landlords who lowered the fixed rent for tenants during the period 1 April to 30 June in certain vulnerable sectors can seek support to compensate for part of the reduction. The compensation is given with a maximum of 50% of the reduced fixed rent, but a maximum of 25% of the original fixed rent.
• April 30th. The government proposed economic aid for companies with a decreased turnover of 30 percentage or more during March and April 2020 compared to last year. To receive the support, the company must have had a turnover of at least SEK 250,000 during the last financial year. The size of the aid will be between 22.5 and 75 percent of the company's fixed costs, depending on how much loss of turnover a company has had.

Sources:
https://www.government.se/press-releases/2020/03/medical-certificate-requirement-during-sick-pay-period-to-be-suspended/
https://www.government.se/press-releases/2020/03/crisis-package-for-jobs-and-transition/
https://www.fi.se/en/published/press-releases/2020/banks-may-grant-all-mortgagors-amortisation-exemption/
https://www.government.se/press-releases/2020/03/crisis-package-for-small-enterprises-in-sweden/
https://www.government.se/press-releases/2020/03/crisis-package-for-small-enterprises-in-sweden/
https://www.government.se/press-releases/2020/04/scaling-up-crisis-measures-for-jobs-and-businesses/  
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/04/satsning-for-att-mota-okad-utsatthet-i-samband-med-det-nya-coronaviruset/ 
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/04/forlangning-av-tillfalligt-inreseforbud-till-eu-via-sverige-med-anledning-av-covid-19/ 
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/04/forlangning-av-tillfalligt-inreseforbud-till-eu-via-sverige-med-anledning-av-covid-19/
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/03/ett-tillfalligt-forbud-mot-resor-till-sverige-med-anledning-av-covid-19/
https://www.swedenabroad.se/sv/om-utlandet-f%C3%B6r-svenska-medborgare/reseinformation/ambassadens-reseinformation/
https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/nyheter-och-press/nyhetsarkiv/2020/mars/tank-over-om-resan-verkligen-ar-nodvandig/
https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=83&artikel=7433689
https://www.government.se/articles/2020/04/the-2020-spring-budget-in-five-minutes/
https://www.regeringen.se/artiklar/2020/03/information-om-livsmedelsforsorinformation-om-livsmedelsforsorjningen-i-sverige-med-anledning-av-det-nya-coronaviruset/
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/03/krispaket-for-svenska-foretag-och-jobb/
https://www.regeringen.se/496e43/contentassets/efd855d8a5d249b59d491eb221e1cfe3/2020-ars-ekonomiska-varproposition-prop.-201920100.pdf
https://www.government.se/articles/2020/03/economic-measures-in-response-to-covid-19/
https://www.regeringen.se/regeringens-politik/regeringens-arbete-med-anledning-av-nya-coronaviruset/foretag/
https://www.government.se/press-releases/2020/03/crisis-package-for-small-enterprises-in-sweden/ 
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/05/stor-satsning-pa-distansundervisning-och-oppen-natbaserad-utbildning/ 
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/05/satsningar-ska-underlatta-for-fler-att-kunna-studera/ 
https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2020/05/regeringen-satsar-30-miljoner-pa-korta-hogskolekurser/