Christmas parties face cancellation as Danish PM confirms incoming Covid-19 restrictions

Christmas parties face cancellation as Danish PM confirms incoming Covid-19 restrictions
An unlikely scene in Denmark in 2020. File photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix
Prime minister Mette Frederiksen said on Thursday that Denmark will tighten coronavirus restrictions in the near future in response to escalating case numbers.

A record daily number of 760 new cases of coronavirus were registered on Thursday, with the positivity rate of tests also up compared to recent levels.

The 760 new positive tests in the last day came from 43,018 tests, a positive test rate of 1.77 percent. That is a notable increase on the 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent figures for positivity reported during the last week.

That means Denmark finds itself in a similar situation to other European countries which have tightened restrictions, Frederiksen said at a briefing on Thursday.

READ ALSO:Denmark breaks record for number of new Covid-19 cases

“Corona is back. And we are going to introduce further restrictions,” Frederiksen said.

That followed statements from health minister Magnus Heunicke earlier on Thursday, similarly signalling likely restrictions. Heunicke’s comments came prior to the announcement of the record-high daily cases number.

The high number registered Thursday appears to have influenced Frederiksen’s comments on new restrictions.

“We have been through a period with high but stable infection numbers. We are now seeing a high number of infections alongside a lower number being tested for the last few days. There is therefore cause for concern and for me to stress the seriousness (of the situation),” the PM said.

Further limits on assembly and an expansion of facemask requirements are two of the areas the government is looking at regarding tightened restrictions. There may also be increased restrictions placed on cafes, restaurants and bars, which are currently required to close at 10pm.

At the time of writing, a maximum of 50 people are allowed to assemble in Denmark. Facemasks are mandatory of public transport and when standing in cafes, bars and restaurants, and are strongly recommended when attending hospitals, care homes and doctors’ clinics.

Frederiksen refrained from giving exact details on new restrictions, saying she would wait until the government is ready to announce them. That is expected to happen within the next few days.

Nevertheless, the prime minister warned Danes that they can expect a winter without the popular julefrokost Christmas parties in their traditional form.

READ ALSO: Ten tips for surviving a Danish Christmas party

“We need to begin to accept this [that many julefrokost traditions will not be possible, ed.]. But that doesn’t mean we can’t meet with some colleagues in an appropriate and sensible way and thank each other for the year gone by,” she said.

The statement is unlikely to draw much enthusiasm for the prospect of cancelling plans to hold the traditional work Christmas parties, which are normally a one-of-a-kind mixture of holiday cheer, excessive drinking and the release of a year's worth of pent-up feelings.

“But it is social activities we need to be alert to. That is related to us as a society having a great interest in keeping everything as open as possible,” Frederiksen said.

A lack of caution in social situations could put at risk the ability to keep workplaces, schools and childcare facilities open, the PM asserted.

“We have no desire to close workplaces. We want children to go to school and educational institutes to be open,” she stated.

“Christmas parties involves singing and dancing. Large amounts of alcohol are consumed. These things can form the basis for the spread of infection,” she said.

“I’m not saying it’s easy. Just like everyone else, I’ll miss it. But if we want to keep society open, it’s social life that we need to cut down on,” she also said.


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