How Denmark abolished Covid passport with country’s epidemic 'not over'

AFP - [email protected]
How Denmark abolished Covid passport with country’s epidemic 'not over'
New corona passport app can now be downloaded. Copenhagen, Friday 28 May 2021. In the app, it is possible for the user to switch between two settings for use in Denmark and abroad, respectively, so that only the necessary information is displayed. The app can be used to document a valid corona passport in both Denmark and when traveling in the EU .. (Photo: Signe Goldmann / Ritzau Scanpix)

Denmark, the first country to introduce a Covid-19 pass six months ago, abolished the requirement in most public places on Wednesday, just days before it lifts all restrictions.


The move comes despite fears of a fourth wave in Europe. While the epidemic is deemed under control in Denmark where vaccination levels are high, officials have warned it is far from over.

"It's a bit of a special day," said Eric Poezevara, who owns a restaurant in Copenhagen.

"We won't miss it but I do think it was a really good idea to introduce it, because it was the starting point for hope," he told AFP before the busy lunch crowd arrived.

Covid passes, certifying the holder is either fully vaccinated or has had a negative PCR test in the past 72 hours, were launched in March when the country's zoos reopened to the public, the first restriction to ease.

Available on an app or in paper form, the pass was always planned as a temporary requirement, and was initially due to expire on October 1st.

On Wednesday, though, the pass was no longer required in cafes, bars, restaurants, gyms and hair salons in Denmark, a country of 5.8 million people where 71.8 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

It will still be needed at major indoor public events and in nightclubs, which reopened in the early hours of Wednesday.


Then on September 10th, all restrictions will be lifted.

The country, which has registered 2,500 Covid deaths, already dropped its requirement for facemasks in public transport mid-August.

And on August 1st, it lifted the Covid pass requirement at museums and indoor events with fewer than 500 people. 
"The epidemic is under control, we have record vaccination levels," Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said last month.

He warned however that with around 1,000 daily cases still being registered, "the epidemic is not over", and vowed the government would reimpose restrictions swiftly if necessary.

According to the Europe branch of the World Health Organization, Denmark is a "champion in vaccine coverage."

It is able to ease restrictions due to its thorough virus tracking and sequencing programme which enables officials to know which variant they are dealing with, and how contagious it is.

Denmark's "health system is capable of implementing a large-scale testing strategy and it includes genomic sequencing," WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said on Monday.

Scientists have however warned that lifting restrictions completely could lead to a surge in Covid cases among unvaccinated people.

"It's very realistic to think that about half of the unvaccinated population will be infected in the next three or four months," leading to a rise in hospitalisations, University of Roskilde epidemiologist Viggo Andreasen told news agency Ritzau.

Travellers entering Denmark must still present either a vaccine passport or a negative PCR test.

EXPLAINED: What changes about life in Denmark in September 2021


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