Early closing times nationwide: These are Denmark’s new Covid-19 measures

To counter a surge in coronavirus cases, bars and discos across Denmark will now be required to close at 10pm, while several other restrictions and recommendations have been brought into effect.

Early closing times nationwide: These are Denmark’s new Covid-19 measures
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at Friday's coronavirus briefing. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced the updated measures at a briefing on Friday.

Bars and restaurants across the country will need to close at 10 pm — a measure until now reserved for the Copenhagen area.

Additionally, standing guests in all bars and restaurants in the country will be required to wear face masks.

Gatherings of more than 50 people will be banned as of Saturday, compared to the current limit of 100 people. Some exceptions for events at which participants are mostly sitting – such as spectators at football matches – continue to apply.

Public and private employers have also been asked to allow staff to work from home wherever possible. Members of the public have been asked to avoid public transport at busy times if they are able to do so.

“We are still in the middle of a global pandemic,” Frederiksen said.

The measures will remain in place until at least October 4th.

Frederiksen stressed that while the number of cases was going up, the situation was still better than in March.

“What we're doing now is about avoiding ending up there, so that we avoid a closing down of large parts of society,” she said.

Denmark has reported 22,291 cases of Covid-19 and 635 deaths since the outset of the pandemic.

The country’s State Serum Institute reported 454 new cases of the virus in its daily update on Friday. That is one of the highest daily figures ever registered in Denmark, although testing is far more widespread now than during the original wave in the spring.

58 people are hospitalised with Covid-19 nationwide as of Friday, a decrease of 2 from the previous day. The highest concurrent number of coronavirus hospitalisations in the spring was 535.

Three people are currently in ICU care with the virus in Denmark. This number reached 146 earlier in the year.

READ ALSO: Denmark advises against travel to Switzerland, three other countries

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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.”