Danish rail company criticised after scrapping coronavirus seat reservation rule

Denmark’s national rail company DSB has decided to abolish a requirement for seat reservations which it introduced earlier this year.

Danish rail company criticised after scrapping coronavirus seat reservation rule
Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The rule was implemented by DSB as a measure to reduce crowding on trains and thereby the risk of coronavirus spread.

But reservations will no longer be required as of Wednesday, the company announced.

Passengers are also free to decide whether to wear face masks on DSB services at their own discretion. Last week, health authorities changed official guidance, advising use of the protective item on busy public transport.

But the decision by DSB has been challenged by commentators in Denmark, given that Covid-19 cases in the country are currently increasing.

Health spokesperson with the Conservative party Per Larsen wrote on Twitter that he “did not understand” the move from DSB.

“Face mask recommendations have been introduced because it can be difficult to keep a distance during rush hour. Now DSB is removing the requirement that prevents overcrowded trains – and ensures passengers can keep their distance. Why?”, Larsen wrote, adding that he would take the issue up with health minister Magnus Heunicke.


DSB head of communication Tony Bispeskov defended the move, which comes at a time when Denmark is seeing its highest daily infection figures since May.

“We are doing this because the Danish Health Authority is now stating that it’s fine to travel on public transport. But when it is busy, and that will happen, you should wear a face mask. You can easily take the train and have a face mask in your pocket or bag and put it on if you don’t think it’s possible to keep a distance,” Bispeskov said to DR.

Seat reservations are not required for Metro and bus passengers, he also noted.

A further 112 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were registered in Denmark on Wednesday, according to figures from national institute SSI.

That reflects rising numbers, after 77 new cases were confirmed on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s figure is the highest number of daily registered cases of infection since May 8th, with the exception of Mondays, when infection figures for the preceding weekend are also published.

READ ALSO: Danish health expert does not recommend further reopening due to increase in Covid-19 cases

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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.”