KEY POINTS: The new Covid-19 measures Denmark will impose

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and leading health officials presented on Wednesday a series of new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19.

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, business minister Simon Kollerup (L) and health authority director Søren Brostrøm present new Covid-19 restrictions on December 8th 2021.
Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, business minister Simon Kollerup (L) and health authority director Søren Brostrøm present new Covid-19 restrictions on December 8th 2021. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The announcement came with infection rates at record levels and the Omicron variant now being transmitted in the community, meaning cases are no longer solely related to travellers infected abroad.

Earlier on Wednesday, reports indicated that the validity period of the country’s vaccine pass would be shortened.

The status of Covid-19 as a “critical threat” was extended by eight weeks, enabling new restrictions to be implemented unless opposed by a majority of parliament’s epidemic committee.

READ ALSO: Denmark extends ‘critical threat’ status of Covid-19

“When we entered the autumn we were prepared for infections to increase and for more people to unfortunately be hospitalised,” Frederiksen said at Wednesday’s press briefing, adding that the first response of the government was to push for more vaccinations.

But the emergence of the Omicron variant means additional measures are necessary, she added.

The independent Epidemic Committee advised the government to take action in response to the epidemic, and the measures announced Wednesday will not be opposed by a majority in parliament.

“(Omicron) is expected to mean more infections, more illness and potentially more in hospital. The new variant therefore also comprises a significant risk for critically straining the health system and that’s why we have to do more,” Frederiksen said.

In addition to ramping up vaccinations and boosters, Denmark has in recent weeks reimplemented Coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) and face mask rules.

The latest measures, announced on Wednesday, are listed below.

Restriction of nightlife

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will be required to close at midnight and alcohol sales after midnight will be broadly banned, the government confirmed.

The rules come into effect on Friday.

Compensation packages are to be offered to businesses impacted by the closures, business minister Simon Kollerup said at the briefing.

School term to end early

Schools will close for Christmas one week earlier than planned and will remain closed until January 4th. Children remain among the groups with high rates of infection due to lower vaccination levels, although Denmark has now begun vaccinating younger children.

Lessons will be conducted online during the final week of the autumn term.

Standing concerts limited to 50 guests 

Concerts with crowds of over 50 standing people will be banned from Friday. It should be noted that this does not apply to concerts where the public is seated, and gatherings of more than 50 in other settings, such as museums or sporting events, are not affected.

Additional face mask requirements

Face masks must be worn at restaurants, bars and cafes when guests are not sitting down.

A requirement for face mask use in the hospitality sector was in place earlier this year but was not initially brought back when mask use in stores and on public transport was reintroduced late last month. This changes from Friday.

Reduced vaccine passport validity

The validity period of a Covid-19 health pass or coronapas will be reduced to seven months after completed vaccination or booster vaccination.

As such, the validity of Denmark’s vaccine pass will be shortened from 12 to 7 months for fully vaccinated people (after a second dose) or those who have received boosters (after a third dose).

READ ALSO: Denmark ‘to reduce’ Covid-19 vaccine pass validity period

Firms asked to scrap Christmas parties and send staff home

Frederiksen called for companies to cancel their julefrokoster or Christmas parties and to enable staff to work from home where possible, in both the public and private sectors.

This is not a restriction but a recommendation. Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm called it a “strong encouragement” in comments at the briefing.

Smaller family Christmas get togethers are not affected by this, though Brostrøm did suggest families follow “good, infection-preventing advice” when celebrating Christmas together.

But Brostrøm stressed that “it is vaccines that will get us through this winter so we can keep an open society without needing additional restrictions.”

“Vaccines, vaccines, vaccines,” he added.

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Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed.