Denmark announces regional travel guidelines for European countries

Denmark is to use a regional model for its official guidelines for travel to European countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced.

Denmark announces regional travel guidelines for European countries
Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

In a statement issued on Thursday morning, the ministry said its new travel guideline model would be based on current infection levels in regions within individual countries.

That means that authorities will be able to advise against travel to one region of a country, while giving the all-clear for travel to a different region within that country.

For example, the ministry could advise against travel to the northwest of England while recommending travel to London; or recommend travel to the Canary Islands but not mainland Spain.

The regional model will apply to countries in the EU, Schengen area and the United Kingdom.

For travel to a region to be recommended, infection rates in the area must be below 30 infections per week per 100,000 inhabitants. That is the same threshold currently applied by Denmark nationally.

However, Covid-19 prevalence across the continent is currently at such a high level that the change to a regional model is unlikely to immediately impact travel guidelines currently in force.

A change to a regional model has been strongly advocated by Denmark’s tourism industry.

Such a model is now possible due to better availability of regional data from Italy and Spain, foreign minister Jeppe Kofod said.

“This gives us the opportunity to keep low infection regions open, provided countries can give us the necessary health and test data,” Kofod said.

“Accordingly, we can no close off regions with higher infections with greater precision,” he added.

At the present time, people who live in countries to which Denmark advises against travel are already required to provide a so-called 'worthy' (anerkendelsesværdigt) reason for entering Denmark. This can include work or family reasons but not tourism. Additionally, a negative Covid-19 test may need to be documented at the border.

Detailed guidance can be found on the Danish police website

In another change from current guidelines, the foreign ministry is to change its advice to people returning from so-called ‘red’ countries, to where travel is not advised.

Currently, people returning from these areas are asked to isolate for 14 days after returning home.

That guideline will now be revised down to 10 days and can be further shortened if a Covid-19 test is taken and returns a negative result. The test must be taken at least four days after arriving in Denmark.

READ ALSO: UK extends virus travel ban on Denmark for 14 days

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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.”