Denmark Decides COVID-19 Is No Longer a Threat to General Public

Is it time to start thinking about the pandemic as an endemic?
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Denmark citizens are no longer obliged to wear masks.Ole Schwander/iStock

Following the U.K., Ireland, and the Netherlands, Denmark is planning to join the European countries that have lifted domestic COVID-19 restrictions in February, Reuters reported.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that the government is going to scrap all COVID-19 restrictions as of February 1, and reclassify COVID-19 as a disease that no longer poses a threat to society, after receiving Denmark’s Health Minister Magnus Heunicke’s letter on the matter, even as the infection numbers increase to a record high.

“Tonight we can ... find the smile again. We have incredibly good news, we can now remove the last coronavirus restrictions in Denmark,” Frederiksen said at a press conference. 

The announcement comes as a new subvariant of Omicron, BA.2 drove infections up, reaching 51,000 new recorded COVID-19 cases as of Thursday, according to Danish Health Authority. Health authorities have estimated that only between 30%-40% of the 955 hospitalized patients are in there for other reasons than COVID-19. 

“Recent weeks have seen very high infection rates, in fact, the highest in the entire pandemic. Therefore, it may seem strange and paradoxical that we are now ready to let go of the restrictions” Frederiksen said. 

Heunicke said, at the same conference, that the decision is safe and the right thing to do and added, “The situation in Denmark is that we have this decoupling between infections and intensive care patients, and it is mainly due to the large attachment among Danes to revaccination. 

Over 80 percent of Denmark’s population is vaccinated with two doses, of whom 60 percent are boosted with a third dose.

Denmark has allowed the cinemas and music venues to reopen two weeks ago after a month-long lockdown. According to the new decision, nightclubs will reopen, the restaurants will be able to serve alcohol after 10 pm, and the customers will not be obliged to present a vaccination card upon entry. As of February, Danish commuters will not be obliged to wear face masks and the customer limits on shops will also be lifted.

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The first country to lift all COVID-19 restrictions was New Zealand, in June 2020.

In the Netherlands, authorities have decided to relax some restrictions as of Wednesday, even as the number of infections continues to rise. Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters that the government will reassess the measures in three weeks. 

The U.K. lifted its mask mandate in shops and on public transport, alongside giving up on the vaccine passports obligations as of Thursday. Scotland plans to relax its remote working guidance from January 31 after the country reopened nightclubs and ended capacity limits on events earlier this week.

Sweden, Norway, and Finland have announced that they were likely to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the forthcoming days and weeks, according to the Financial Times

However, World Health Organization (WHO) experts have warned against complacency against COVID-19, as the latest variant Omicron is on a rampage. 

Time will tell if this decision is going to prove itself as the right decision amidst the most infections variant is wandering around.