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CORONAPAS

Denmark considers reducing Covid-19 health pass vaccine validity

The Danish Health Ministry wants to shorten the period for which vaccination and previous infection provide a valid coronapas, Denmark’s Covid-19 health pass.

Denmark could reduce the validity of the coronapas to five months following vaccination or recovery from Covid-19.
Denmark could reduce the validity of the coronapas to five months following vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The proposed tightening of the rules was recommended by Danish Health Authority and the government has asked its independent advisory board for management of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Epidemic Commission, to address the question and make a recommendation, Danish media reported on Wednesday.

A valid coronapas is currently required at bars, restaurants, cafes and several other customer-facing businesses in the service sector. It must also be presented on intercity trains and regional buses, at universities, language schools and other further education, at state workplaces and at gyms and places of worship.

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

Under current rules, a coronapas is valid for seven months after a person is fully vaccinated or has received a booster jab.

Recovery from Covid-19, giving conferred immunity, gives a valid coronapas for six months.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke confirmed to broadcaster TV2 that the validity of the health pass would be reduced to five months in both cases.

Should the Epidemic Commission recommend the change in rules, the government would then need approval from parliament’s Epidemic Committee, on which members of all other parliamentary parties sit.

The Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) party, a centre-left ally of the government, said it was ready to support the move.

“It turns out that the vaccines offer protection for a shorter amount of time. It’s therefore important that the coronapas fits with the protection there is so that people will get revaccinated and reduce transmission (of Covid-19),” Social Liberal health spokesperson Christina Thorholm told news wire Ritzau.

The party said it would await medical advice from health authorities before deciding on the exact changes to any rules.

The Liberal party, the main group in opposition said it would discuss the matter internally before taking a stance.

READ ALSO: Denmark sets latest Covid-19 cases record amid high testing

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COVID-19 RULES

Why Danish government is considering more scope for epidemic restrictions

The Danish government must currently receive the backing of parliament before implementing major interventions in response to a public health threat such as the Covid-19 pandemic. But an evaluation by two ministries suggests they favour more flexibility on the area.

Why Danish government is considering more scope for epidemic restrictions

Under current laws, parliament must vote to approve the categorisation of a disease as a ‘critical threat’ to society (samfundskritisk).

Only when a disease or an epidemic has been categorised in this way by parliament can all  of the interventions available to the government under the epidemic law be brought into play.

In other words, the government must face parliamentary checks and controls before implementing restrictions.

Those interventions range from the most invasive, such as lockdowns and assembly limits, to less invasive, but still significant, measures such as face mask mandates and health pass requirements like those seen with the coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Denmark decommissions country’s Covid-19 health pass

The Ministry of Health now wants to change the existing structure within the Epidemic Law, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported on Monday.

In an evaluation, the ministry proposes a change to the rules such that requirements for things like face masks and the coronapas can be introduced for diseases that are not only in the ‘critical threat’ category, but also for those rated an almen farlig sygdom, ‘dangerous to public health’.

This would put some of the restrictions in the lower category which is not subject to parliamentary control.

The evaluation was sent by the health and justice ministries to parliament in October but has escaped wider attention until now, Jyllands-Posten writes.

In its evaluation of the epidemic law, the Justice Ministry states that there is a “large jump” between the small pool of restrictions that can be introduced against ‘dangerous to public health diseases’ and the major societal interventions the government – with parliamentary backing – can use once a disease is classed as a ‘critical threat’.

“This jump does not quite seem to correspond with the actual demand for potential restrictions against diseases dangerous to public health, which can spread while not being critical to society,” the ministry writes.

The health ministry said in the evaluation the “consideration” should be made as to whether less invasive measures should continue to pass through parliament, as is the case under the current rules.

The national organisation for municipalities, KL, has told parliament that it backs the thinking of the ministries over the issue but that parliamentary control must be retained.

The Danish Council on Ethics (Det Etiske Råd) told Jyllands-Posten that it was “very sceptical” regarding the recommendation.

“The council therefore points out that a slippery slope could result if the restrictions, interventions and options that can be brought into use with diseases that present a critical threat to society, can also be used with dangerous diseases like normal influenza,” the council said.

The minority government’s allied political parties all stated scepticism towards the proposal, in comments reported by Jyllands-Posten.

In a written comment, the health ministry told the newspaper that Health Minister Magnus Heunicke would discuss committee stage responses with the other partied before deciding on “the need for initiatives”.

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