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Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Denmark today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday
Guests show their coronapas before admission to an amusement park during Summer Days in Roskilde June 24th. Photo: Torben Christensen / Ritzau Scanpix

EU launches Covid certificate scheme

Today, July 1st, marks the first day of the EU’s much-discussed Covid certificate scheme. 

According to the EU the digital Covid certificate “will facilitate safe free movement of citizens in the EU during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Essentially that means no quarantine measures or need to supply negative Covid tests before or after travel. 

For more information on how to comply, visit this article outlining the new scheme.

Coronapas validity extends to 96 hours

From today, a negative PCR test will result in a coronapas valid for 96 hours, up from the original 72-hour validity period. 

Also beginning July 1st, there will be more options to get a PCR test without having to book an appointment in advance, according to Danish Agency for Security of Supply. The agency’s director, Lisbet Zilmer-Johns, said it will still be possible to book an appointment for a PCR test if needed.

For practical and logistical reasons, there are some places where it will not be possible to be PCR-tested without an appointment.

Covid-19 infections hit two-week high

In the last 24 hours, 340 people have been registered infected with coronavirus in Denmark, according to the Statens Serum Institut (SSI). Today’s infection rate is the highest since 353 infected people were registered on June 16th.

However, the number of inpatients is the lowest since September last year and no deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

Despite the increase in infections, and the prevalence of the particularly contagious Delta variant, Denmark is not expected to face a third wave, according to Christian Wejse, a specialist in infectious diseases and associate professor of global health at Aarhus University.

May sees significant drop in unemployment

Between April and May, Danmarks Statistik recorded the largest monthly fall in unemployment since the agency began calculating the figures using the current method in 2007.

Danish unemployment fell by 13,900 to 115,300 people from April to May. This corresponds to an unemployment rate of 4 percent.

Minister of Employment and Gender Equality Peter Hummelgaard (S) said this is a sign that Denmark is moving past the corona crisis. He attributes the decline in unemployment to the government’s aid packages and economic initiatives during the corona crisis.

Unemployment in Denmark is now at its lowest level since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Denmark last year.

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Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Thursday

How Covid helped some Danes kick a cigarette habit, whether mistaken heat cheques need to be returned, and record-breaking energy prices are among the top news stories in Denmark on Thursday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Thursday

Mistaken heat cheques may need to be returned after all  

Perhaps don’t spend that 6,000 kroner windfall just yet — the minister of climate, energy, and supply wants to revisit whether people who received heating cheques by mistake should get to keep the money. 

The heating cheques are intended to support households heated by gas as prices soar, but the government used an online database that relies on self-reported information from homeowners to determine who was eligible. That meant some households that have since switched from gas to another heat source, or have even moved to a different residence altogether, received the cheques in error. 

Minister Dan Jørgensen told TV Avisen he’s asking the parties that supported the original legislation behind the heat cheques to discuss ways of recovering the misspent money. The legislation explicitly said that heat cheques sent in error not only should not be returned, but must not be paid back. 

The system’s goal was to get the money in the accounts of people who need it  as quickly as possible without the delay and added expense of an application process, which could also exclude the most vulnerable, broadcaster DR reports

Electricity price on Wednesday broke Danish record

At about 7 pm Wednesday evening, the price of a kilowatt-hour of energy reached 8.42 kroner, the highest figure recorded in the last 12 years according to TV2. 

Daily and weekly averages are also at record levels, Carsten Smidt, director of the Danish Supply Authority, told DR. According to Nord Pool, the electricity market that covers Nordic countries, prices are three times as high as the same period last year. 

“If prices remain at the current level, an ordinary average family with a variable contract will pay 15,000 kroner more this year than last year for their electricity bill,” economist Brian Friis Helmer of Arbejdernes Landsbank told DR. 

READ MORE: Denmark’s energy agency to look at possible saving measures 

Large fire on Amager extinguished

A Wednesday night fire in a pizzeria on Amagerbrogade, the main high street in Amager south of Copenhagen, spread to first floor apartments before it was extinguished, according to authorities. 

The cause of the fire remains undetermined, but no injuries have been reported. 

A kick in the (cigarette) butt: Danish cigarette smokers quit more often, smoked less during pandemic 

According to new research from the University of Copenhagen, more Danish cigarette smokers kicked the habit or reduced their dependence during the height of the pandemic in 2020. 

Smokers bought 20 percent fewer cigarettes on a weekly basis in 2020 than before lockdowns began, and the number of people who quit cigarettes altogether increased 10 percent relative to the year before. 

“We can learn from it that smokers actually react to it when they can see the consequences [of smoking] more clearly right now and here,” University of Copenhagen associate professor Toke Reinholt Fosgaard told newswire Ritzau. 

“You can use prices and make it more expensive to smoke, but you can also try to shift information and awareness around the consequences so that it feels closer,” he added. 

It’s unclear whether the people who quit or reduced their consumption of cigarettes during the pandemic were able to keep it up after 2020, though researchers say they’re hopeful data from 2021 will show a lasting change.

READ MORE: Denmark considers permanent ban on cigarette sales for people born after 2010