Denmark to lift most remaining lockdown measures on June 8

Denmark's political parties on Thursday night agreed to remove almost all of the country's remaining lockdown restrictions in the second week of June, when it will raise the maximum number of people allowed to gather to 50.

Denmark to lift most remaining lockdown measures on June 8
In a press release, Denmark's prime minister Mette Frederiksen said the reopening was only possible because of “the exemplary behaviour” of Danish residents.  
“The Danes have quickly adapted to new habits, new ways of being together, and have exhibited an extraordinary sense of society,” she said. “Those habits will be crucial in making sure we can still have the infection under control as we now open up further. We still have to stand together by keeping our distance. “
She said the nine political parties had agreed to empower the government to amend the plan if the level of infections started to increase dramatically. 
“The parties have agreed that if the reopening leads to the coronavirus epidemic flaring up, the reopening plan can be deviated from, so that we can slow down the tempo of our plan,” she said. “Everything depends on the epidemic being kept at a controlled level.”
Morten Østergaard, leader of the Social Liberal party said he was pleased that the public now had a timeline for the rest of the reopening. 
“We have agreed on a comprehensive reopening plan, which is based on trust in the people's basic common sense and their willingness to keep their distance and stick to a high hygiene standard,” he said. 
“I am fantastically happy about it, because it gives everyone some certainty over what will happen if we carry on behaving with common sense.” 
Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the Danish People's Party, said the agreement allowed the Danes to see the timeline for reopening. 
“Now we can say to the Danes that if they continue the efforts they've been making up until now, the parties are ready to open more things up.” 
In the agreement, the nine political parties concede that they expect lifting restrictions to lead to an increase in the number of people infected with coronavirus, even from the second phase on May 11. 
“The parties note that the reopening can be expected to lead to an increase in the number of infected and in hospitalisations in Phase Two as well as in future phases,” the agreement states, according to the Ekstra Bladet newspaper. 
Before the June 8 reopening goes ahead, an expert group from Denmark's infectious diseases agency, SSI, will submit a report calculating the current level in infection, allowing the government to hold back from lifting some of the restrictions, and even to reimpose those that have already been removed. 
On the other hand, Phase 3 includes some possible measures, such as “increased physical presence in public workplaces” and the full opening of the television broadcasters DR and TV2, which will only take place if the number of infections remains low. 
Before each phase, the agreement also commits the government to reassessing the maximum number of people who can gather. 
This means that although the agreement suggests raising the maximum number of people who can gather to 50 on June 8, that threshold could be raised higher, allowing for packed theatre performances. 
There will also be an opportunity to further raise the allowed number of people who can gather in early August ahead of the Phase 4 announcement. But in the agreement, the parties also stress that the ban on events involving 500 people or more will stay until at least August 31. 

The agreement opens the way to adapting the restrictions in place in different regions and cities, depending on the number of cases they are facing.  

Phase 3 on June 8 will see the reopening of: 

  • Museums, theatres, art galleries, cinemas, aquariums 
  • Outdoor amusement parks 
  • Zoos and botanical gardens 
  • Summer activities for children and young people 
  • Public sector organisations facing bottle necks 
  • Full opening of public research activities 
  • Adult education sectors for the unemployed
  • Language schools 
  • Indoor sports and other group activities (such as evening classes) 

If infection rates are low, Phase 3 will also see: 

  • increased physical presence in public workplaces
  • the full opening of the television broadcasters DR and TV2

Phase 4, in 'early August', will see the following reopen: 

  • Nightclubs and discos
  • Gyms, waterparks and swimming pools
  • Universities and all other educational institutions 
Denmark in mid-March rolled out measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, though they were not as strict as some other places in Europe — or in place for as long.
While most businesses have been closed, grocery stores, pharmacies and shops that were able to ensure social distancing have remained open, and Danes have been allowed to spend time outdoors freely.
Kindergartens and primary schools resumed on April 15 and small businesses such as hairdressers have also opened up again.
The borders, closed to foreigners since March 14, remain shut, but a decision on their reopening is expected on June 1.
Since the start of the epidemic, Denmark has recorded 10,281 cases, with 522 deaths.

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”