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METTE FREDERIKSEN

Five key things Danish PM said about country’s coronavirus situation

During a briefing on Monday evening, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stressed key government messages relating to the current status of the Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark.

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen had a clear message for unvaccinated people in Denmark during a press briefing on November 8th.
Danish PM Mette Frederiksen had a clear message for unvaccinated people in Denmark during a press briefing on November 8th. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Frederiksen on Monday announced the government would reintroduce requirements to show a valid coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) at bars, restaurants and some events.

During the briefing, Frederiksen and other senior officials confirmed the decision and underlined a number of other messages related to the Covid-19 situation as Denmark enters late autumn.

READ ALSO: Danish parliament expected to green-light return of coronapas

Frederiksen urges unvaccinated to get a jab

The prime minister did not mince words as she stressed the importance of vaccination in keeping infections and pressure on hospitals at bay.

Frederiksen, along with Health Minister Magnus Heunicke, Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrom and Henrik Ullum, head of the national infectious disease agency SSI, all pointed out Denmark’s high vaccination rate while saying it also needs to be higher.

“It can’t be said clearly enough. Those of you who are not yet been vaccinated: do so,” Frederiksen said.

Data clearly shows lower infection rates and lower hospitalisation rates, and less time spent in hospital with Covid-19 for people who are vaccinated, she said.

“For all of you who are not vaccinated, (things) are going to become more difficult. And that’s also how I think it should be,” she added with reference to incoming coronapas requirements.

Denmark currently has a Covid-19 vaccination rate of just over 75 percent.

Government does not expect new lockdown

A new national lockdown echoing those put into place in March and December 2020 is not an eventuality the government is working towards, Frederiksen said on Monday.

“We are considering to a greater degree what we can do to stop the views small group of unvaccinated people have on the vaccine from ruining everything for the vast majority,” she said when asked about the potential for lockdowns.

The PM did not go into further details as to what that would entail.

Elevation of Covid-19 to “critical threat” status

The government supports upgrading Covid-19 to the status of “critical threat to society”, following a recommendation from the advisory Epidemic Commission and reversing move in September which saw the status of the virus downgraded and earlier restrictions lifted. 

The commission includes representatives from health authorities, the police and four ministries.

A disease is considered a “critical threat” when it threatens the functions of society as a whole, by for instance, overwhelming the health system.

In such instances, the government can impose bans on people gathering, close schools, demand Covid-19 passes, and mandate use of face masks, provided a parliamentary majority does not oppose this.

“We cannot let the virus run wild in Denmark,” Frederiksen said.

Return of coronapas

The government on Monday wants to reintroduce rules requiring a valid coronapas at bars, restaurants, nightclubs and large events, amid surging cases of the coronavirus in Denmark.

The coronapas is used to document a recent negative Covid-19 test or immunity against the virus due to vaccination or recent recovery from infection.

The health pass will also be required at indoor events with over 200 spectators and outdoors events with over 2,000 spectators.

The period for which earlier infection can form the basis for a valid coronapas will be reduced from 12 months to 6 months, Heunicke said during the briefing.

Rules requiring the pass will apply to those over the age of 15, in a change from the earlier minimum age of 16.

Parliament is expected to give the necessary backing for the move.

Upcoming local elections get Covid-19 safety focus

Provisions to cast a ballot outdoors will be made available at next week’s municipal and regional elections.

Frederiksen said outdoors voting would be offered at poll stations across the country for the November 16th elections. She also said poll stations would ensure adequate cleaning and that hand sanitizer was available.

“You are also welcome to bring a facemask and your own pen, if you are most comfortable with this,” the prime minister said.

Over 400,000 foreign nationals, including non-EU citizens, are eligible to vote in the local elections.

READ ALSO: How to vote as a foreign resident in Denmark’s local elections

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POLITICS

Over half of Danes want Frederiksen as PM in new poll

More than one in two Danish voters prefers incumbent Mette Frederiksen as their choice for prime minister, a new poll has found.

Over half of Danes want Frederiksen as PM in new poll

In a poll conducted by Voxmeter on behalf of news wire Ritzau, 52.5 percent said Frederiksen was their preferred candidate for prime minister.

That compares favourably for Frederiksen with an earlier poll from the week before last, in which 48.7 percent said they wanted Frederiksen as government leader.

Earlier this summer, a poll showed that the ‘red bloc’ of allied parties on the left of Denmark’s centre, led by Frederiksen’s Social Democrats, no longer had an overall majority after a long period of sustained superiority over the rival conservative ‘blue bloc’ alliance.

READ ALSO: How likely is Denmark to have a general election ahead of schedule?

Respondents to the poll have three options to choose from: Frederiksen and two conservative party leaders, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of the Liberal (Venstre) party and Søren Pape Poulsen of the Conservatives, both of whom will run in the next election as prime ministerial candidates.

Rumours in the late summer pointed towards an election being called by Frederiksen in the early autumn. That has yet to materialise, but conservative party leaders on Monday released a joint declaration urging the PM to call the election.

The centre-left Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party has also demanded an election by October.

A general election can take place as late as June 4th 2023, but political manoeuvring suggests it will happen prior to that date.

Frederiksen’s improved performance in the latest poll may be a result of the publication by the Conservatives of their “2030 plan”, an economic manifesto which an analyst said “made it easier for Mette Frederiksen to paint a picture of what Danes will get with a conservative government”.

“The Prime Minister has made a strong return from the summer holiday, partly by presenting more policies, but also by going on the offensive, especially against Søren Pape Poulsen and the Conservatives’ economic 2030 plan,” the analyst, Casper Dall of Avisen Danmark, told news wire Ritzau.

Damaging political issues including the outcome of an inquiry into the 2020 mink scandal left Frederiksen and the Social Democrats bruised going into the summer break.

The poll gives Poulsen 33.6 points among voters, compared to 35.2 percent in the prior poll.

Ellemann-Jensen gets the support of 14.2 percent, a fall-off from the previous 16.1 percent.

The Conservatives have meanwhile seen backing from voters decline from 16.5 percent to 15.1 percent, while for the Liberals it has increased from 11 to 13.8 points.

Poulsen has received negative press in recent days after Danish media reported that his husband, Josue Medina Vasquez Poulsen, is not the biological nephew of the former president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina Sánchez. That conflicted with earlier information given by the couple. Poulsen subsequently issued an apology over the matter.

He was also reported to have participated in an unsanctioned meeting with Dominican Republic officials when Justice Minister in 2018. The meeting took place without the knowledge of the Danish Foreign Ministry, according to the reports.

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