Denmark announces new coronavirus restrictions: Here’s what you need to know

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced at a briefing on Friday evening a number of new restrictions in response to escalating Covid-19 infections in Denmark.

Denmark announces new coronavirus restrictions: Here’s what you need to know
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announces new Danish Covid-19 restrictions on October 23rd. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark is to significantly restrict social activity with new measures aimed at stemming a concerning trend of increasing cases of coronavirus in the Scandinavian country.

The new measures include:

  • Mandatory facemasks in all indoor public places
  • A ban on selling alcohol after 10pm (including at supermarkets and convenience stores)
  • The assembly limit will be reduced to a maximum of 10 people

The timescale for the three measures differs: the facemask requirement will come into effect from October 29th, while the ban on alcohol sales takes effect from Monday. Both of these measures will remain in place until January 2nd 2021, Frederiksen said at Friday’s briefing.

The reduction of the assembly limit to a maximum of 10 people (from the current 50) becomes effective on Monday and will remain in place for an initial four weeks.

All restrictions already in place have also been extended until January 2nd, Frederiksen said. They had been scheduled to expire on October 29th. That means bars, restaurants and cafes will still be required to close at 10pm and facemasks will remain mandatory on all public transport.

The new facemask requirement will mean people in Denmark now face wearing the coverings in supermarkets and stores, libraries and all other indoor public areas. Children under 12 and others with health conditions contraindicating face mask use are exempted under the current Danish rules.

In addition to the restrictions, a new recommendation was also announced on Friday: to restrict social contacts to 10 people outside of your own household.

Frederiksen said she empathised with people in Denmark who are finding it hard to live with the ongoing restrictions necessitated by the pandemic, coining a new term, coronatrist, which can be translated to “corona blues”.

But she said the Covid-19 crisis is not over, stressing that “in recent weeks, Europe has truly been hit by a second wave”.

Without new restrictions, “we risk losing control in Denmark”, she said.

“”I'm asking you — once again — for us to get through this crisis, this time during the autumn,” the PM said with emotion apparent in her voice after announcing the tightened measures.

Denmark registered 859 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, the second consecutive day on which a new record has been set for the number of cases in a 24-hour period.

The figure of 859 is notably higher than Thursday's total of 760, which itself set a short-lived record as the highest daily number of new cases. 

The 859 new infections came from 44,244 tests. That corresponds to a positive test rate of 1.9 percent, continuing an upward trend in the test positivity rate.

A total of 125 people are now hospitalised with coronavirus in Denmark according to SSI, an increase of 1 since yesterday. 18 are in ICU care –  also 1 more than yesterday – and 13 of the 18 are receiving ventilator treatment, which also represents a one-person increase.

Three new deaths with Covid-19 were registered on Friday, bringing Denmark's death toll since the beginning of the pandemic to 697.

Frederiksen had warned of new, stricter measures even before Friday’s high total of new cases was announced, admitting they are likely to affect this year’s Christmas celebrations.

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

She also stated on Friday evening that the government will “initiate further compensation packages for business and extend existing ones”.

Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm encouraged members of the public to find a small group of people to socialise with – and not to invite more than 10 people to private gatherings.

“This applies no matter how big your home might be,” Brostrøm said.


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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.”