Denmark to present plan for ‘gradual’ lifting of restrictions

Denmark will gradually reopen society as it emerges from the current national lockdown, according to a plan the government said it will present later this week.

Denmark to present plan for 'gradual' lifting of restrictions
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. File photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The government will on Wednesday unveil its plan for restrictions on and after March 1st. The current national lockdown is scheduled to expire on February 28th.

In a social media post on Monday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated that restrictions will not yet be lifted fully.

“Now – with infections lower – the unanimous view of experts is that it is not possible to reopen fully,” Frederiksen wrote on Facebook.

In January, expert advisors to the government recommended that high schools and uppers secondary schools be allowed to reopen before universities.

Additionally, shops should be allowed to reopen before people working from home are allowed to return to other work places, according to the advice.

Outdoor sports and cultural activities could also be allowed to open before activities that take place indoors.

Frederiksen also said that the reopening of society could take place on a partly regional basis.

She wrote that she was “positive” towards calls made by the opposition Liberal party for regional relaxation of rules.

The government is “positive towards, for example, regional reopenings provided it is medically reasonable, just as there are currently regional restrictions,” she said. Schools in the town of Kolding are currently closed after an outbreak of the infectious B117 variant in the area.

But the PM would not yet give a firm outline as to what measures will remain in place next month.

Societal and economic recommendations to the government will be discussed with the other parliamentary parties on Tuesday before any decision is announced to the public, news wire Ritzau writes.

Over 300,000 people in Denmark have so far received at least the first dose to a vaccination against Covid-19, according to latest figures.

But increased supply in of vaccines in coming months will see that figure begin to rise at a faster rate, Frederiksen wrote.

“I said in my New Year’s speech that January and February would test our resilience. I think that March – and maybe April – will test our patience,” she added.

READ ALSO: Denmark tightens border to Germany following coronavirus outbreak

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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.”