What are Denmark’s Covid-19 rules for New Year’s Eve?

Denmark does not currently have any Covid-19 restrictions on assembly in place, but has issued recommendations in advance of New Year’s Eve. Nightlife and alcohol sales remain subject to restrictions.

Muted celebrations in Copenhagen on New Year's Eve in 2020. Fewer Covid-19 restrictions are in place in 2021 but health authorities have encouraged the public to limit plans.
Muted celebrations in Copenhagen on New Year's Eve in 2020. Fewer Covid-19 restrictions are in place in 2021 but health authorities have encouraged the public to limit plans. Photo: Tobias Kobborg/Ritzau Scanpix

New Year’s Eve 2021 will not see limitations on people gathering, in contrast to 2020, but current Covid-19 rules do place restrictions on alcohol sales and nightlife.

Authorities have also issued advice and guidelines which they have encouraged the public to follow during celebrations to see out 2021.


Sales of alcohol at bars, restaurants and other licensed establishments are banned after 10pm, while establishments must close by 11pm.

General sales of alcohol are currently banned between 10pm and 5am.

Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants are also affected by capacity limits introduced earlier in December. This means they must restrict the number of customers to two square metres of floor space per sitting guest, and four square metres of floor space per standing guest.

READ ALSO: The Covid-19 restrictions now in effect in Denmark

Private events held at venues outside of homes must end by 11pm. This rule was ostensibly designed for events like wedding receptions and Christmas parties but could conceivably also apply at New Year.

The venues hosting events must comply with restrictions affecting licensed businesses like restaurants and bars, meaning limits on when alcohol can be served also apply here.


During a December 22nd briefing on the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the director of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm, asked the public to “avoid big celebrations on New Year’s Eve”.

“If many of you are already thinking about New Year’s Eve, I’d clearly say you should not make plans for huge celebrations,” he said.

“We are asking you to stick to seeing as few people as possible,” the senior health official added.

Last year’s assembly restrictions limited gatherings to 10 people in public places on December 31st, 2020. Those rules did not apply in private homes, but authorities asked private parties to be kept limited and amongst the same people with whom Christmas has been spent.

With no assembly limit in place at the end of 2021, Brostrøm asked New Year’s parties to be kept to as low numbers as possible.

“See few (people), keep it short, only see close family and your very closest friends for New Year’s Eve,” he said on December 22nd.

On Wednesday, Denmark’s national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute registered 23,228 new cases of Covid-19. That eclipses the previous record of 16,164, which was set on Monday.

READ ALSO: How Denmark normally celebrates New Year’s Eve (2019)

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.