Denmark set to enforce entry quarantine as parliament backs move

A majority in parliament now supports mandatory isolation for people travelling into Denmark from abroad.

Denmark set to enforce entry quarantine as parliament backs move
File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Enforcement of entry quarantine in Denmark could mean fines or even prison for people who do not comply with the rules, according to justice minister Nick Hækkerup.

Danish authorities have not previously enforced arrival quarantine and currently recommend a 10-day isolation period upon arrival or return from abroad.

But that looks set to change with a majority in parliament now in favour of requiring quarantine, a practice that has been in place for months in neighbouring Norway.

The new rule is likely to take force next week following an expedited process through parliament to amend the current emergency epidemic law, broadcaster DR writes.

The 10-day quarantine period can be shortened under the proposed rule if a PCR test for Covid-19 taken after four days returns negative, according to DR’s report.

All passengers arriving at Danish airports will be required to take a Covid-19 test.

“A very broad majority of parliament’s parties have joined a political understanding to avoid us getting more of the mutations that have the country currently locked down,” Hækkerup told DR.

READ ALSO: Could all passenger traffic to Europe from non-EU countries be halted over Covid variants?

Hækkerup also said that both Danish and foreign citizens would be subject to the quarantine rules.

Fines and prison sentences would both be potential punishments for breaking the law.

Some exemptions, including for people transporting goods into the country, would be included in the rules, the minister confirmed.

Currently, Denmark requires everyone travelling to the country by air to provide a negative Covid-19 test no more than 24 hours old when boarding flights. Foreign nationals who live in Denmark are subject to the rule, as are Danish citizens.

The rules came into effect on January 9th and are scheduled to expire on February 7th.

Non-Danish nationals who live in regions of Sweden and Germany which border Denmark can travel to Denmark with a negative Covid-19 test up to one week old, provided they have a ‘valid' reason for travel, when entering at land or bridge borders. Non-resident foreigners must provide a negative Covid-19 test no more than 24 hours old. 

Non-Danes who live in the UK and South Africa are essentially banned from entering Denmark at the current time, while incoming flights from the United Arab Emirates are not permitted to land in Denmark.

The country’s foreign ministry is currently advising against foreign travel to the entire world.


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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.”