Denmark lifts all Covid restrictions as vaccinations top 80%
Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled it to become one of the first EU countries to lift all domestic restrictions, after 548 days with curbs in place to limit the spread of Covid-19,
The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the digital pass – a proof of having been vaccinated – is no longer required when entering nightclubs, making it the last virus safeguard to fall.
More than 80% of people above the age of 12 in the Scandinavian country have had the two shots, leading the Danish government to declare as of midnight it no longer considers Covid-19 a “socially critical” disease.
“I wouldn’t say it is too early. We have opened the door but we have also said that we can close it if needed,” Søren Riis Paludan, a professor of virology at Aarhus University in Denmark’s second largest city, said.
The tipping point in Denmark to start easing restrictions came when a majority in the 50+ age group had both shots, Riis Paludan said.
Since 14 August, mask-wearing on public transport has no longer been mandatory. On 1 September, nightclubs reopened, limits on public gatherings were removed and it was no longer mandatory to show the pass to sit inside restaurants, go to sports matches, gyms or the hairdresser.
Denmark: number of new coronavirus cases per day
Starting from day of first reported case
“It’s been a rough couple of years. I have three kids and we have had homeschooling and it’s been a lot of hard days,” resident Klaus Sylvester said.
“It’s quite liberating that Denmark no longer has restrictions.”
In June, Iceland had also lifted all its COVID-19 measures – only to reimpose them after cases spiked again.
Denmark introduced COVID-19 passports in March 2021 as part of a gradual easing of rules.
On August 1, it lifted the COVID pass requirement at museums and indoor events with fewer than 500 people, before ditching it for major events, while masks have not been required on public transport since mid-August.
On Saturday, a sold-out concert in the capital, Copenhagen, will welcome 50,000 people, a first in Europe.
Danish authorities insist the virus is under control, with about 500 daily cases and a reproduction rate of 0.7.
Vaccines have been swiftly rolled out, with 73 percent of the 5.8 million population fully vaccinated, and 96 percent of those 65 and older.
However, optimism was tempered on Friday as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) director for Europe warned that vaccines were not likely to end the pandemic for good.
Instead, jabs will help prevent serious disease and death, though the virus is likely to be around for years to come as it mutates, Hans Kluge told reporters in Copenhagen.
“We should anticipate how to gradually adapt our vaccination strategy to endemic transmission and gather really precious knowledge about the impact of additional jabs.”
Denmark made third doses available to vulnerable groups as of Thursday, and Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said vaccines played an important role in helping the country return to normal.
But he struck a cautious note.
“Daily life is basically back to normal, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any danger down the road,” Heunicke said on Friday.
“The virus has mutated several times, so I can’t make any guarantees. But with this many people vaccinated, we are well set,” he told Danish television TV2.
Christian Nedergaard, who owns several restaurants in Copenhagen, said that while everyone is happy about the return to normal life, “the situation is still complicated”.
“The memory of coronavirus will fade very quickly from some people’s minds but not for everyone, and for restaurants this period has for sure been a game changer,” he said.