Legal Requirements for Venue Occupancy in European Countries

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The restrictions on travel, business operations, and occupancy management within Europe have differed by country, here we take a look at some of the different approaches taken by individual European countries.


Like many countries around the world, Portugal has had to react cautiously in combating new waves and outbreaks. On January 15th the Portuguese government declared a state of emergency decree until March 1st to better efforts of outbreak control.

Releasing clear guidance to the public about which establishments will remain open, when, and under what conditions:

  • Similarly to the UK all non-essential retail has been closed. Supermarkets can remain open but must limit the number of customers to 5 for every 100m²
  • No indoor or outdoor dining is permitted but restaurants and bars may operate takeout and delivery options
  • The education sector remains open, alongside places of worship and healthcare services, although health services are by appointment only.

Take a look at the list of Portuguese municipalities and their covid risk levels here


Much like many countries in Europe Norway has kept its borders closed in order to nationally handle outbreaks of C19. With this, the Norwegian government has placed similar guidance and regulations for gatherings and events. In order to allow communities to better manage outbreaks, there have also been local rules implemented where needed which can be found here.

The Norweigan capital, Oslo has introduced new regulations that restaurants and licensed premises must adhere to. Alongside the ban on alcohol sales, all events for these venues indoors and outdoors have been canceled. The new regulations mentioned above will most likely have to be met before other areas of the economy are allowed to open up.

For the rest of Norway here are the national regulations:

  • Private gatherings in a public, rented, or borrowed premises are limited to 10 people indoors and 20 people outdoors. Some examples are: birthday parties, weddings, and baptisms
  • 10 individuals are allowed to an indoor event with no seating (church, mosque, concert), but this number is raised to 50 if the event is for a funeral
  • For indoor events (cinema, opera, concert) with fixed seating, there can be 200 people

In order to better plan for the uncertain future, the Norwegian government has also developed 3 future scenarios for the pandemic: Optimistic, Middle-ground, and Pessimistic – You can read about the scenarios here.


In order to regain control over the C19 pandemic, on February 14th 2021 the Swedish government declared a new pandemic law, (“Pandemilagen”), which has introduced new, temporary restrictions per industry. 

All of the following restrictions are enforceable by ‘The County Administrative Boards of Sweden’ also known as Länsstyrelsen, this also means the police can intervene if rules are broken.

Public gatherings and events such as lectures, theatrical performances and religious gatherings, have been limited to a maximum of 8 participants (excluding funerals which may have up to 20 guests). 

In restaurants, cafés and pubs, seating has been limited to 4 individuals per table. If there is a party greater than 8 people then tables must be separated by at least a meter.

Venues serving food and beverages must additionally adhere to the following:

  • Have processes in place to ensure crowds do not form in frequented areas such as entrances, bars and toilets
  • Only serve food and drink to guests who are seated at a table or a bar counter
  • The serving of alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverage-like preparations is prohibited between 8 pm – 11 am

Find out the latest Covid updates for Sweden


Rules for occupancy by industry have been published by the Polish government alongside dates for normal operational resumption. As well as these industry rules, Poland has a social distancing rule of 1.5 meters between people and compulsory mask wearing is mandatory in public. The face coverings however do not apply to green areas such as forests and parks.

Cinemas, theatres, opera houses and philharmonics

  • All operations can resume as long as venues adhere to a strict sanitary regime
  • A maximum of 50% of seats can be occupied
  • Masks are obligatory
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited


  • A maximum of 50% of the seating capacity can be filled
  • Alternatively, 30% of the total combined seating and standing capacity, leaving at least half of seats unoccupied is allowed
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times

Religious Ceremonies

  • Indoor ceremonies are limited to max. 1 person per 15 m2, maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 m from others.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times

All fairs, meetings and conferences are to be held online. Wedding and funeral ceremonies are prohibited along with all similar celebrations. 

The operation of venues that are a location for night clubs, discos and other dancing activities are also banned across the country. With the only exception being sports dance clubs.

Open Venues

In Poland, all non-essential retail stores are to remain closed, with the exception of service outlets which are important for everyday life, for example, hair, beauty, and medical services. Indoor (static) dining of any kind is prohibited but restaurants are allowed to run takeaway and delivery options.

You can find a full list of open stores here

In shops, markets and post offices, the number of customers is limited

  • In shops under 100 m2 – 1 person/10 m2,
  • In shops over 100 m2 – 1 person/15 m2,

Since Feb 1st shops in shopping center can open under a strict sanitary regime in order to reduce the likelihood of C19 outbreaks.

Hospitality, Sports & Leisure

On February 12th Hotel operations in Poland were allowed to reopen but only up to 50% of the hotels’ occupancy. All food ordered by guests can only be consumed and delivered to their rooms.

Additionally on the same date swimming pools and slopes, saunas, and massage parlors all reopened, This is under the same strict cleanliness regime other industries have had to abide by.


Face masks are recommended when travelling on public transport and in other situations where maintaining social distancing is not possible.

Venues that are mainly serving food including restaurants, cafeterias, fast food restaurants, and pizzerias, are allowed to operate at 75% seating occupancy. For venues that primarily sell alcoholic beverages, a maximum of 50% of seating may be filled.

Indoor and outdoor public events and public meetings with fewer than 50 attendees are allowed. Gatherings of up to 500 attendees are permitted if social distancing is ensured, and gatherings of more than 500 people are expected to be permitted beginning Aug. 31.

In order to better manage any waves or outbreaks of C19 the Polish government introduced their own tier system with varied restrictions depending on the level. By using a hybrid strategy the country aims to:

  • Prevent the spread of the virus in society
  • Safeguard the carrying capacity of the healthcare system
  • Protect people, especially those in risk groups


In Spain, there are many variants of lockdown measures depending on the region. In this area, you can find the clearest list of rules which is for Catalonia.

Bars & Restaurants

  • These hospitality venues previously operated in the morning from 7am until 10:30am reopening for lunch hours at 1pm until 4:30pm. From March 8th however these venues can now operate from 7:30am until 5pm without having to close intermittently.
  • Establishments can only accommodate 30% of their regular capacity indoors while there are no limits placed on outdoor seating. Inside, only up to 4 people can sit at each table, except for 6 people on holidays.
  • Takeaway services are allowed to operate between 7pm and 10pm with delivery options available until 11pm

Social Gatherings

  • Groups of 6 are allowed to gather in public areas and from March 8th the two household limit had been lifted

Gyms & Leisure Centres

  • Gyms and other sports facilities can open to 30% capacity. Open air sporting activity is held at 50% capacity. Dressing rooms can also reopen from March 8th

Retail Stores

  • During weekdays (Monday – Friday) all non-essential retail can open at 30% occupancy. Only essential retail can operate on the weekends

Life Events

  • Wedding and funeral celebrations have a 30% capacity limit with a maximum of 1,000 people (as long as there is sufficient ventilation and access is controlled) if these conditions cannot be met then the capacity is capped at 500 people

Entertainment Venues (Cinema, Theatre etc)

  • Open at 50% capacity with a maximum cap of 1,000 people (as long as there is sufficient ventilation and access is controlled) if these conditions cannot be met then the capacity is capped at 500 people.


  • All primary and secondary schools are open
  • Post-obligatory education is to work remotely where possible. All exams must be completed at the place of learning. From March 8th, universities can resume in-person teaching at 30% of classrooms’ capacity.

If you found this useful, why not check out Legal Requirements for Venue Occupancy for the U.S, Mexico, and Canada?

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