Museums, high schools and borders: Denmark’s next reopening plans announced

Danish political parties agreed on Wednesday to bring forward their reopening plans after lengthy negotiations which began around midday and ended shortly before midnight. Here's a look at the new reopening schedule.

Reopening straight away: Cultural institutions

Museums, theatres, art galleries, cinemas, aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens are allowed to reopen immediately, the government announced on Wednesday. 

“We are working at high pressure to give our visitors in the garden and in the museums a good and safe experience.  It takes time, but we will not compromise safety”, said Peter C. Kjærgaard, who is the director of the Natural History Museum, in a press release.

Monday May 25th: Borders

The Danish border will continue to be temporarily closed, but the parties agree to extend the list of so-called “recognised purposes for entry into Denmark” from Monday. 

This means that people with permanent residence in the other Nordic countries and Germany can travel into the country if they are, for example, holiday home owners or have a Danish girlfriend, fiancé or grandparent. In addition, business people are also allowed to travel in and out of the country. 

The Danish government is currently in dialogue with neighbouring countries in relation to opening borders. 

It has now said it will present a plan by May 29th, on “a controlled and gradual reopening of the summer house tourism, which is health-sound and which provides the tourism industry with clarity.”

Wednesday May 27th: High schools and other education

From May 27th, high schools, adult education and language centres can reopen. This means the oldest school children, from ages 16 to 19, can return to school before the summer holiday.

Evening, music and cultural schools, scouts, as well as outdoor amusement parks and summer activities for children and young people can also reopen.

Wednesday 27th: Three regions allowed to reopen the public sector 

The regions of North Jutland, Central Jutland and Southern Denmark, will be allowed to reopen the public sector from Wednesday 27th. However, this does not apply to employees in the Capital region and Zealand, where there is a greater infection risk than in the other three regions. 

Gatherings of less than ten to gradually increase but not immediately

Gathering restrictions will be raised to 30-50 from June 8th, in line with phase three of reopening. 

At the same time, the government will present a plan that includes recommendations for wedding parties, confirmation parties and other large family parties.

The gathering restrictions are expected to be raised further from July and August, reaching 500 by the end of the summer.

But so far the restriction on gatherings of less than ten is still in place, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen emphasised.

Still close: Nightlubs, leisure facilities and indoor sports

There are still more sections of society that need to remain closed for a while. 

This applies to indoor sports, entertainment venues, night life and some sports and leisure facilities. This will be reviewed at a later date.

Statens Serum Institut released a report on Wednesday that described the risks of reopening places like night clubs where there are large gatherings.


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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.”