Denmark ends Covid-19 restrictions, citing high vaccination rates

Digital pass no longer needed when entering nightclubs as last virus safeguard falls

Nightlife guests gather in front of Rumors on Noerregade in Copenhagen. From Wednesday, nightclubs and bars could be open more or less as usual. Photograph: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/EPA

Nightlife guests gather in front of Rumors on Noerregade in Copenhagen. From Wednesday, nightclubs and bars could be open more or less as usual. Photograph: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/EPA

 

After 548 days with restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19, Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled the Scandinavian country to lift all domestic restrictions.

The return to normality has been gradual, but now 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 percent of people above the age of 12 have had two vaccinations.

“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,” Soeren Riis Paludan, a professor of virology with the Aarhus University in Denmark’s second largest city, told The Associated Press.

The Danish government no longer considers Covid-19 “a socially critical disease”.

Jens Lundgren, a professor of viral diseases at the Copenhagen University Hospital, said the government would be “quite willing” to reintroduce restrictions if infections spike again. He pointed at night clubs being the last thing to open because “it is the activity associated with the highest risk of transmission”.

“The world is in the middle of a pandemic and none of us can claim that we are beyond the pandemic,” said Lundgren who described Denmark as being “an isolated island” where the vaccine rollout has worked. “Nobody should have the illusion that we are over this.”

Face masks or shields are still mandatory at airports and people are advised to wear one when at the doctor’s, test centres or hospitals. Distancing is still recommended and strict entry restrictions still apply for non-Danes.

“The ghost of corona sits in the back of our head,” said Frank Oestergaard, a patron in a downtown Copenhagen restaurant.

In Denmark’s neighbour Sweden, which has stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic, the government says that most restrictions will be removed by September 29th.

The country has not gone into lockdowns or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infection. According to official figures, 70 per cent of people over the age of 15 have had both shots and nearly 82 per cent have received the first shot.

“I think it’s very good, so hopefully we can get back to a normal day in the restaurant business without checking people and just no restrictions whatsoever. That’s nice,” said cafe owner Ralph Marker. – AP