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Police ban on Copenhagen enclave Christiania lifted after 100 days

A ban preventing public use of parts of the Christiania area in Copenhagen has been lifted after more than 100 days and repeated extensions.

Police ban on Copenhagen enclave Christiania lifted after 100 days
Police restrictions on Copenhagen's Christiania area were lifted after being in place since January. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Copenhagen Police have now ended the ban on using the ‘Pusher Street’ and ‘Green Light District’ areas of Christiania, after it expired at midnight on Tuesday.

The ban, a so-called opholdsforbud, allowed the public only to pass through, but not stop in the area. It was originally introduced in January as a measure to limit the spread of Covid-19 infections. At the time, a tendency for crowds to gather in the area was cited as the basis for the measure.

It was then extended at regular intervals.

Police said on Tuesday that the ban was no longer necessary given change in national restrictions, effective as of Wednesday, which raised the outdoor assembly limit to 50 people.

Denmark enters new phase of reopening plan: Here’s what changes on Wednesday

Health authorities have also changed their recommendations in relation to social distancing in public places.

Under the now-expired ban, lingering in the affected areas was banned between 10am and midnight.

Walking, running and walking of dogs in the affected area was permitted during the periods affected by the ban, but no further public use was allowed. Failure to comply could have resulted in a fine of 2,500 kroner.

Pusher Street and the Green Light District are prominent features within Christiania, an alternative enclave in the Danish capital. In more normal times, the area is known for features including the market stands on Pusher Street, from where cannabis is sometimes illicitly traded and clamped down on by police.

Police presence in the area will remain heightened following the end of the ban, Copenhagen Police have confirmed.

“Copenhagen Police will still have increased presence in the area to ensure the relevant Covid-19 restrictions are complied with,” the police said in a statement on Tuesday.

“If that is not the case, police can re-establish a ban in the area,” the statement also said.

Asked in March by broadcaster DR whether the ban, the only one of its type in the country, is partly motivated by Christiania’s connection to cannabis dealing, senior Copenhagen Police officer Tommy Laursen dismissed the connection.

“No. We are currently using considerably more staff in the area than we did before the ban was introduced,” Laursen said.

Residents in Christiania decided in January to close off the entrance to the neighbourhood with a fence due to concerns the cannabis trade, which is usually conducted in the areas affected by the ban, would spread to nearby areas.

In March, police arrested and charged 25 people in Christiania for organised cannabis dealing. An information stand set up in the area following the ban was also used to deal cannabis, police said in March.

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COVID-19

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.” 

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