Are any Covid-19 rules still in force in Denmark?

Denmark’s Covid-19 restrictions largely came to an end on Tuesday, but there are still a few rules and guidelines to be aware of.

Face masks are no longer required in Denmark with the exception of some social, health and elderly care settings.
Face masks are no longer required in Denmark with the exception of some social, health and elderly care settings. File photo: Bax Lindhardt/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark on Tuesday became the first EU country to lift all of its Covid restrictions amid the current Omicron wave of the virus.

That means the end of rules including requirements to wear face masks, present a valid coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) and limited opening hours for bars and restaurants.

A few rules have been kept in relation to face mask and coronapas use. These apply primarily in health and social care settings.

Elderly care homes and social facilities with vulnerable residents are asked to retain coronapas and face mask rules for visitors as far as possible.

Visitors to care and social facilities are asked to take a test prior to their visit and can be given a rapid antigen test which they can take in advance. Staff in the sector are asked to take a PCR test once a week (for vaccinated or previously infected persons) or twice a week (if not vaccinated or previously infected). They are also asked to take antigen tests prior to each shift at work.

The Danish Health Authority recommends face masks continue to be used in social and health care settings where there is close contact between staff and patients or persons at risk of serious illness with Covid-19, as well as to protect the sector in general by preventing outbreaks.

As such, masks should be used in both the public and private sphere if there is close contact with a person who could be at risk of serious illness if they are infected with Covid-19. This can be at hospitals and doctors’ surgeries and visits by health sector staff to patients’ own homes.

READ ALSO: Denmark returns to ‘life as we knew it’ as Covid-19 restrictions end despite Omicron

Travel restrictions were also eased on Tuesday, meaning people who can document vaccination with an EU approved vaccine, or who have been previously infected with Covid-19, will not have to test or quarantine on arrival in Denmark regardless of where in the world they are travelling from.

A few restrictions remain in place at the country’s borders, however.

People who are neither vaccinated nor previously infected must take a test for Covid-19 for entry to Denmark from EU or Schengen countries.

Unvaccinated people with no infection history travelling from outside the EU and Schengen area must also test and may be required to quarantine.

With restrictions now largely gone, people in Denmark are being urged to exercise personal responsibility.

“Without a Covid pass there will be a shift of responsibility”, epidemiologist Lone Simonsen of the University of Roskilde told news wire AFP.

Danes have increasingly used home tests to detect infection, but these are now being phased out and instead, anyone with symptoms is advised to stay home.

The Danish Health Authority currently recommends those who test positive to isolate for only four days provided they no longer have symptoms.

Meanwhile, contacts to confirmed cases no longer need to quarantine unless they have symptoms.


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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”.