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COVID-19 RULES

The Covid-19 restrictions now in effect in Denmark

A number of changes to the Covid-19 restrictions currently in force in Denmark came into effect on January 16th.

A valid coronapas and face mask is still required on long distance trains in Denmark.
A valid coronapas and face mask is still required on long distance trains in Denmark. File photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Restrictions impacting the cultural sector in particular were eased on January 16th after parliament backed an easing of restrictions last week.

Other restrictions remain in place. Limits on alcohol sales and opening times for bars and restaurants are notable amongst these.

Coronapas and face mask requirements are also in place, as are Covid-19 testing rules for incoming travellers.

Culture 

Up to 1,500 spectators or guests are now allowed at indoor culture and sports venues.

Cinemas, theatres, museums, concert venues and sports halls reopened on Sunday and are now allowed to have attendances of up to 1,500 for events, provided that the crowd is separated into three blocks of 500.

A capacity requirement at places of worship is also revoked.

The limit of 1,500 represents an upward revision of the 500 preferred by the government, which was outvoted by other parties when the new restrictions were determined

Hospitality and nightlife

 Bars and restaurants must stop serving by 10pm and close by 11pm, while the sale of alcohol is banned from 10pm to 5am. Nightclubs are closed.

These restrictions, which have been in place since December 19th, are now scheduled to expire on January 31st.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke last week suggested that it is likely some restrictions on nightlife will remain beyond the end of this month.

Coronapas 

Denmark’s Covid-19 health pass, the coronapas is now valid for five months after a person is fully vaccinated, meaning they have received their second dose of the original Covid-19 vaccination course (or only dose in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

The coronapas becomes valid again or remains valid if the holder has received a booster vaccination.

According to the health ministry, the period for which the coronapas becomes invalid following a positive PCR test for Covid-19 is now 11 days (reduced from 14 days) under new rules which came into effect on January 16th. It remains valid until five months after the positive PCR test (unless the holder subsequently receives a second or booster vaccine dose).

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.

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.

Face masks

Face masks must be worn on public transport including buses, trains, light rail, Metro, ferries and taxis. Tourist buses are not exempted and the rule also applies on domestic flights. Masks must also be worn at transport terminals such as bus stops, rail stations and airports.

In shops and stores, face masks must be worn by customers. This also applies for customer-facing businesses in the service sector such as hairdressers, tattoo parlours, beauty and massage clinics, solariums (if staffed), driving schools and driving test centres.

Staff on public transport and in retail and services can be exempted from face mask rules if they have a valid coronapas.

It is likewise mandatory to wear a face mask at bars, restaurants, cafes and other businesses with a licence to serve alcohol, and at takeaway businesses. Guests may take masks off when sitting down.

Travel

Requirements to show a coronapas on long distance buses, Intercity and Intercity Lyn trains, as well as face mask rules on public transport, have been extended until January 31st, the Transport Ministry confirmed last week. Rail operator DSB has a seat reservation requirement in place for Intercity and Intercity Lyn trains until the end of January, meaning a reservation is obligatory on these services.

For foreign travel, a Covid-19 test must be taken in connection with arrival in Denmark. The rule, introduced in December and recently extended until the and of January, applies to Danish citizens and residents as well as foreign visitors. It also applies regardless of vaccination status.

Residents of Denmark are permitted to take a test up to 24 hours after arrival. People without an address in Denmark must take a Covid-19 test before entry to the Scandinavian country. The health ministry states that entry tests can be a PCR test up to 72 hours before arrival or a rapid antigen test taken up to 48 hours before arrival.

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COVID-19 ALERT

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.

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