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COVID-19 RULES

Denmark scraps one-metre rule and space requirements for culture, sports and churches

Denmark has scrapped its one-metre distance requirement, meaning, among other things, that cinemas and churches can fill their seats and pews.

Denmark scraps one-metre rule and space requirements for culture, sports and churches
Churches will no longer have to meet strict area and distancing requirements. Photo: Claus Bech/Scanpix

The Danish Health Authority said in a press statement that with over 60 percent of Danish residents now fully vaccinated, it was possible to remove the requirement, which in practice means that there needs to be an empty seat between groups in churches,  cinemas, and other institutions. 

We have now reached a situation where we have good control of the infection in the community because so many people have accepted the offer to get vaccinated, which means we can adapt the prevention recommendations so that you can all maintain a normal everyday life while we continue to prevent infection,” Helene Bilsted Probst, the authority’s deputy director said. 

Up until now, the authority’s recommendation has been for at least one metres’ distance between people in public spaces, and two if possible.

In a statement, Denmark’s culture ministry said that the change meant the end of the area and distance requirements which had been imposed on cultural institutions, sports, and other associations. 

From August 14th, there will no longer be a requirement for there to be at least two square metres per person in any public room where spectators, visitors, or users gather, or for big events with standing audiences where spectators are separated into sections.

There will also no longer need to be at least one metre or one empty seat between each seated spectator for indoor cultural and sporting events with seated audiences. 

The church ministry, meanwhile, said that the change meant that groups would no longer need to keep a distance of two metres between one another when singing, and that area requirements on churches would be abolished.

READ ALSO: What changes about life in Denmark in August 2021

According to the authority, there are now six overriding guidelines still in place: 

  • get vaccinated
  • stay home and get tested if you experience symptoms 
  • keep your distance 
  • ventilate and create drafts
  • wash your hands or use hand sanitiser frequently 
  • clean surfaces, particularly those touched by many people

The culture ministry said that the following restrictions still applied: 

Indoor cultural and sporting events with seated audiences of over 500 spectators 

  • There must be sections, each with a maximum of 1,000 spectators
  • All must have a valid coronapas
  • Requirement for spectators to sit down in fixed seats

Outdoor cultural and sporting events with seated audiences of over 500 spectators

  • Spectators must sit down in fixed seats
  • If over 2,000 spectators, all must have valid coronapas 
  • All spectators must be registered 

Indoor cultural and sporting events with standing audiences of over 500 spectators

  • There must be sections, each with a maximum of 500 spectators
  • Maximum of 3,000 spectators in total
  • All must have a valid coronapas

Outdoor cultural and sporting events with standing audience of over 500 spectators

  • There must be sections, each with a maximum of 1,000 spectators (set to increase to 2,500 on August 15th)
  • Maximum of 5,000 spectators in total ( set to increase to 10,000 from August 15th)
  • All must have a valid coronapas
  • No one can stay overnight (IE no festival goers living in tents)

    Gyms

    • Coronapas required

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    COVID-19 ALERT

    Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

    A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

    Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

    Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

    The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

    The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

    READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

    Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

    Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

    France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

    Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

    READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

    Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

    BA.5 ‘taking over’

    Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

    READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

    One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

    The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

    Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

    “We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

    READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

    But are the new subvariants more severe?

    “Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

    But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

    Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

    Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

    However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

    Return of the mask? 

    The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

    “It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

    Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

    “I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

    READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

    Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

    Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

    The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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