The 10:00 PM time-based alcohol sales ban in Sweden will come into force from November 20 and is expected to be applied till February 2021. The decision was made on the basis of Chapter 3, Section 10 of the Alcohol Act, according to Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren. She also said that one consequence will be that the alcohol serving venues in the on-trade, such as bars, restaurants and pubs, will close at 10:30 PM, as the law says that they must be vacated 30 minutes after alcohol serving ends.
Until now, the Swedish government has not enforced any bans in their response to the coronavirus crisis. Instead the government has relied on appealing to people to follow the Public Health Agency’s advice to avoid the spread of infection. While this has worked to a large extent it is proving to be not enough.
It is good that the government is taking responsibility for the spread of infection by addressing one of the risk factors that serving alcohol late at night has meant,” said Johnny Mostacero, the president of IOGT-NTO, as per Accent.Johnny Mostacero, President, IOGT-NTO
Mr Mostacero pointed out that this might only be a first step and more measures could be necessary as the risk of alcohol-fueled coronavirus hotspots could move from restaurants to other environments.
Given the evidence that alcohol has been found to affect people’s behavior in ways which undermine COVID-19 preventive health measures such as mask use and physical distance the time-based ban on alcohol sales is a solid decision by the Swedish government. Many other European nations have also taken similar measures as, summarized by Movendi International previously.
Nevertheless, the government has also received criticism for deciding to address alcohol’s role in the coronavirus crisis so late.
While cultural schools and leisure time activities for children and youth were forced to close down much earlier, adults were allowed to continue going to pubs and bars almost like in normal times,” said Mona Örjes, President of Junis.
That felt like a flawed risk assessment.”Mona Örjes, President, Junis
The decision is in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) advice to reduce access to alcohol during the pandemic. Reducing alcohol availability helps to relieve the pandemic burden for several reasons. These include:
- Alcohol weakens the immune systemand thus increases the risk of infection and of more severe COVID-19 disease progression,
- Alcohol is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, which are conditions that contribute to more severe COVID-19 disease progression,
- Alcohol-related disease, violence and injury increase the avoidable burden on healthcare and emergency services which are already near or over capacity during the current public health crisis, and
- Alcohol consumption sites and events have been shown to be hotspots for COVID-19 spread in the wider community.
The IOGT-NTO movement in Sweden, a member of Movendi International, welcomes the new government decision to ban alcohol sales in the alcohol on trade sector after 10 PM. They say it was positive that the Swedish government finally woke up to the connection between alcohol consumption and coronavirus spread in the community. Tackling alcohol means addressing a significant risk factor on the current public health crisis.
But they also caution that more should be done than this nighttime alcohol sales ban in the on-trade.
One measure to address alcohol is not sufficient,” says Mr. Mostacero.
Instead, we need a comprehensive package of measures to tackle alcohol problems during the pandemic to really make an impact.”Johnny Mostacero, President, IOGT-NTO
The youth organization UNF, a member of Movendi International, advocates for such a comprehensive solution to alcohol’s role in the current public health crisis.
To limit alcohol serving hours to 10 PM is a good start but the coronavirus spreads even before 10 PM,” says Filip Nyman, President of UNF.
We think that the government should ban alcohol sales entirely during the pandemic.”Filip Nyman, President, UNF