The Swedish government improved their on-trade alcohol availability regulations to tackle the spread of COVID-19. First, from November 20, last year alcohol sales were banned in bars, pubs and restaurants after 10:00 PM. Then from December 24 the new policy was further improved to ban alcohol sales from 8:00 PM.
Movendi International has been following the effects of these improved regulations. Already several positive effects have been observed:
- The police of the metropolitan regions Stockholm and Gothenburg reported reductions in violent crime and robberies.
- SOS calls to the police fell by almost 40% in some hours.
Now, police from central Stockholm and Södertälje report alcohol violence, specifically pub crime, has also declined.
The police believe that alcohol should not be served after 8:00 PM or 10:00 PM anyway, even in non-pandemic times, to reduce violence.
However, alcohol violence has not completely disappeared. According to the police in central Stockholm, alcohol and other drug use has moved inside hotel rooms. The police in Södertälje say this is not the case in their area, but still alcohol-related fights are happening in other places.
Reducing alcohol availability to fight COVID-19
The above 8:00 PM temporary alcohol sales ban for the on-trade lasted till February 28, 2021. Then from March 1, 2021 the ban was relaxed till 10:00 PM. Meaning restaurants, pubs and nightclubs can serve alcohol until 10:00 PM. This is set to last till April 11, 2021.
Even though the alcohol sales ban was relaxed slightly the government imposed a closing time of 8:30 PM for all restaurants regardless of whether they sell alcohol or not. But home delivery and take away will still be available after 8:30 PM.
Alcohol availability reduction has helped with protecting communities from harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry, as detailed above.
Therefore, IOGT-NTO has now proposed to further improve alcohol availability regulations by reducing the opening hours of Systembolaget, the government-run alcohol retail monopoly. This would effectively reduce off-trade alcohol sales, meaning further contributions to the protection of people from alcohol violence and the coronavirus.
Further restrictions on the availability of alcohol also need to be implemented to prevent a third wave – as far as we can do,” said Irma Kilim, head of drug policy at IOGT-NTO, as per Accent.
To this end a reduction of Systembolaget’s opening hours would play an important role.”Irma Kilim, head of drug policy, IOGT-NTO
Accent [translated from Swedish]: