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CHRISTMAS

How could Denmark’s new Covid-19 restrictions affect Christmas?

The Danish government has announced new restrictions in an effort to reduce the country’s sky-high Covid-19 infection numbers. Some could impact Christmas plans, although family celebrations look unlikely to be affected.

Denmark has increased Covid-19 restrictions. Will Christmas be affected?
Denmark has increased Covid-19 restrictions. Will Christmas be affected?Photo by Max Beck on Unsplash

Wednesday’s announcement came with infection rates at record levels and the Omicron variant now being transmitted in the community.

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.

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

The government and health authorities have repeated the mantra that the primary goal is to avoid a broad lockdown such as those seen last winter and in March 2020, and that was reiterated during the announcement of the new restrictions.

Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm said that that “it is vaccines that will get us through this winter so we can keep an open society without needing additional restrictions.”

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

But church services have been avoided in the restrictions, Brostrøm said at last night’s briefing.

“We have not considered additional measures at places of worship and the Church of Denmark, well aware as we are that it is a time when more people go to church,” the health authority director said.

Last year saw many Christmas church services cancelled at very short notice as restrictions were introduced.

“I’ll do all I can from my side to avoid repeating that,” Brostrøm said.

One part of the festive season which many look forward to but is likely to be curtailed by the new measures is work Christmas parties.

The annual work Christmas dinner, or julefrokost in Danish, is a staple of the country’s festive traditions and famous for often being a rowdy occasion at which normally-reserved colleagues allow themselves to let off steam.

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

Although this is a recommendation and not a restriction, Brostrøm called it a “strong encouragement” in comments at the briefing.  A valid coronapas is required for organised events over a certain size.

Family Christmas get-togethers are not affected by this and there are no limits on households mixing or public assembly.

Brostrøm did, however, suggest families follow “good, infection-preventing advice” when celebrating Christmas together.

Concerts with crowds of over 50 standing people will be banned from Friday under the new measures. While this could in theory impact Christmas events, it should be noted that the restrictions do 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.

Bars, restaurants and nightclubs will be required to close at midnight and alcohol sales after midnight will be broadly banned, the government confirmed. Face masks must be worn at restaurants, bars and cafes when guests are not sitting down.

As such, if you’ve arranged to meet with friends for Christmas drinks, you may have to rethink plans. The rules come into effect on Friday.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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