Denmark announces slight easing of Covid-19 restrictions from Monday 

The government has announced a new slight easing of coronavirus restrictions, effective Monday.

Denmark announces slight easing of Covid-19 restrictions from Monday 
A veterans' football team training in Denmark earlier this month. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

A limit on public assembly outdoors will be eased from Monday and more students will be able to attend schools, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced following meetings between the government and parliamentary parties on Thursday.

The limit on public assembly will be increased from 5 to 10 people nationally, and to 50 for organised outdoor sports and leisure activities, as well as for outdoor religious services.

Authorities will continue to recommend limiting gatherings in private homes to no more than five people and to limit social contacts generally.

Final year students at youth and adult education institutions in Greater Copenhagen will be allowed to attend classes in person on the same model as the rest of the country. The capital region had previously been under tighter rules.

Municipalities with higher infection rates will be excluded from this, however, with parliament’s Epidemic Commission to assess the situation in municipalities, according to broadcaster DR.

Additionally, students at vocational schools will be allowed to attend classes normally if the lessons involved practical teaching which cannot be conducted remotely.

“All parties have validated that it is important now that the reopening has a very strong focus on children and young people,” Frederiksen said.

“We are also enabling more Danes to get out and do things together outside. We are fortunately on the way into spring – there is less infection outside – and we can calmly get all of Denmark moving again, but we must do so responsibly with risking everything,” she also said.

Although the move was backed by a broad majority of parties, some opposition leaders have said they would have liked to have gone further.

“I had hoped that more (pupils) would be able to go back to school. I’d hoped for more businesses to be able to open and I hoped that shopping malls would be able to open,” Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, leader of the opposition Liberal party, told DR.

Kristian Thulesen Dahl of the Danish People’s Party called the concessions agreed on Thursday “sprinkles”.

“We are fighting for it to be possible to offer outdoors serving (at restaurants and bars) as a minimum,” Dahl said.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 vaccines to thank for significantly fewer Danish infections and deaths, agency finds

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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.”