Denmark to allow 1,500 to attend cinemas and indoor venues

A majority in the Danish parliament has agreed to allow attendances of up to 1,500 at indoor culture and sports venues, overruling the minority government.

Crowds of up to 1,500 will be allowed at Danish handball matches along with cultural venues such as cinemas, theatres and concert halls from January 16th.
Crowds of up to 1,500 will be allowed at Danish handball matches along with cultural venues such as cinemas, theatres and concert halls from January 16th. File photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Conservative parties, along with the centre-left Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre), agreed on Thursday to allow venues such as cinemas, theatres, museums, concert venues and sports halls to have attendances of up to 1,500 for events, provided that the crowd is separated into three blocks of 500.

The new rules will apply from Sunday January 16th.

The government had preferred to restrict crowds at venues – which have been closed since December 19th – to 500, which was itself a higher number than the 350 recommended by the advisory Epidemic Commission.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Denmark eases culture restrictions but keeps nightlife curbs

“It is clear that when a majority in parliament wants to go a little further than what we proposed, we naturally will comply with that,” said Kasper Sand Kjær, the culture spokesperson with the Social Democrats, who form Denmark’s minority government.

The model of splitting crowds into sections of 500, with separate exits, entrances and seating areas, has previously been used during the pandemic in Denmark at football stadiums, earning it the term the “Superliga model”.

“This is a known model and our culture sector and sports clubs have managed separate sections before. I’m confident that they also will be able to this time,” Kjær said.

“With that said, this is further than the Commission recommends. There is naturally a risk in that,” he added.

Liberal party culture spokesperson Jan E. Jørgensen declared himself satisfied with the government concession.

“I’m very satisfied but what’s important is that the cultural sector is satisfied. Because what the government suggested was of no use at all,” he said.

Thursday saw Denmark’s daily total for new Covid-19 cases back over 25,000 for the first time since last week after a dip in numbers during the weekend.

25,751 new cases were registered from 211,603 PCR tests, giving a positivity rate of 12.17 percent.

755 people with Covid-19 are currently admitted to hospitals nationally, including people admitted for reasons other than Covid-19 but who have returned a positive PCR test.

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Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed.