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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Swedish authorities said Thursday that citizens from fellow Nordic countries will have to show a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate when entering Sweden starting next week.

As of Dec. 21, people from Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland no long will have an exemption to the certificate requirement and must also show their passes to enter Sweden.

Swedish Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren also encouraged all travelers to be tested for the coronavirus upon entry due to a “deteriorating” public health situation.

“The spread of infection is increasing sharply. The new virus variant omicron makes it difficult to predict the spread of infection in the future,” Hallengren said during a news conference.

Sweden has previously stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the coronavirus.

The Swedish government has not ordered lockdowns or closed businesses during the pandemic, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections. Authorities have emphasized individual responsibility instead of government mandates.

For individuals who are “fully vaccinated and healthy, it is OK to celebrate Christmas with relatives and friends, but be prepared to cancel if you get symptoms,” Hallengren said. She urged Swedes to “choose a smaller party” for ringing in the New Year.

In Denmark, Queen Margrethe has called off the pomp-filled ceremonies in early January where she traditionally receives New Year’s greetings from the government, top officials, civil society organizations and the diplomatic corps.

On Wednesday, the palace said her daughter-in-law, Australian-born Crown Princess Mary, had tested positive and was in isolation. Mary is married who is married to Margrethe’s oldest son and heir to the throne, Crown Prince Frederik.

In neighboring Norway, a Jan. 21 banquet for the 18th birthday of Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who is second in line to the Norwegian throne after her father, Crown Prince Haakon, was also canceled. ___

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