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.
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.”
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.