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CORONAPAS

Denmark confirms change to coronapas validity period

The validity period for Denmark’s Covid-19 health pass, the coronapas, will be reduced to five months following parliamentary approval.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke displays the coronapas at a May 2021 briefing. The validity period for the health pass following Covid-19 vaccination will be reduced on January 16th.
Health Minister Magnus Heunicke displays the coronapas at a May 2021 briefing. The validity period for the health pass following Covid-19 vaccination will be reduced on January 16th. Photo:Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

The changes to the rules, first reported last week, were confirmed by Health Minister Magnus Heunicke to broadcaster TV2 on Wednesday afternoon after a meeting of parliament’s Epidemic Committee, which must approve changes to Covid-19 restrictions.

Under current rules, a coronapas is valid for seven months after a person is fully vaccinated, meaning they have received their second or final dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The new rules reduce that validity period to five months. The coronapas becomes valid again or remains valid if the holder has received a booster vaccination.

The change comes into effect on Sunday January 16th according to earlier information provided by the Ministry of health. This means that people who received their second dose five to seven months ago but have not had a booster will lose their green coronapas on that date.

Up to 500,000 people in Denmark could be lose their valid coronapas as a result of the change to the rules, news wire Ritzau writes.

The Covid health pass will become valid again immediately after the booster jab is received, according to the planned rule changes earlier announced by the Ministry of Health.

No decision has yet been made on the validity period of the coronapas following the booster jab. As such, no expiry date is currently set for the pass following boosters.

According to the rule changes tabled by the government to the Epidemic Committee earlier this week, the period for which the coronapas becomes invalid following a positive PCR test for Covid-19 is reduced from 14 days to 11 days under the new rules. It remains valid until five months after the positive PCR test (unless the holder subsequently receives a second or booster vaccine dose).

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.

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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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