Credit: Claudio Marchionne / Scop.io

“Freedom Day” for Denmark as country prepares to lift all its remaining COVID-19 restrictions

Denmark will lift all its remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccine passports, on 10th September after the country’s health ministry declared the pandemic “no longer a critical threat to society.”

“The epidemic is under control, we have record vaccination levels,” the health minister, Magnus Heunicke, said in a press statement released on Friday. “That is why we can drop the special rules we had to introduce in the fight against Covid-19.”

He warned, however, that the epidemic was not over even if the country is “in a good place right now.”  He added that the Danish government would not hesitate to “act quickly if the pandemic once again threatens the essential functioning of society”.

According to Our World in Data, Denmark is the third-most vaccinated country in the EU; 71% of the population have received two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine.  Malta is at 80% while Portugal is second, with 73% of people vaccinated.  In the UK, 62% of the population have been vaccinated.

Denmark’s weekly rolling average of new coronavirus cases per million inhabitants currently stands at 167, slightly above the EU average of 149 but significantly below Britain’s figure of 492, according to the same online science publication.

Denmark became one of the first European nations to impose a partial lockdown in March 2020, forcing schools and other businesses to shut down.  The country, like many others worldwide, has tightened and relaxed lockdown measures over the duration of the pandemic.  It was also one of the earliest countries to launch a COVID-19 vaccine passport system, which was launched on 21st April this year.

The Danish Council on Ethics had asked that the passport be used for the shortest time possible and safeguard private information.  Now, under the latest government order, “a number of provisions in the Epidemic Act no longer apply,” which includes vaccine passport mandates, according to the statement released from the health ministry.  The country’s requirement to show vaccine passports at certain businesses and venues will expire on 1st September.

Because of the scrapping of restrictions, Danes will no longer be required to show a valid coronapas to sit in restaurants and bars, and with discos and nightclubs reopened on 1st September, it means that revellers will no longer have to show a coronapas at those venues.  It also means that individuals going to watch a Superliga football match or attend an outdoor event with more than 2,000 people, will no longer require a coronapas.
The huge change in the regulations will not, however, affect rules on international travel into Denmark, which are governed by a separate inter-party agreement which is due to expire in October, a spokesperson for the health ministry said.

The Danish decision is set to be welcomed by many, with vaccine passport systems coming under increasing scrutiny in recent months the world over.  Many conservatives and civil liberties groups have condemned vaccine passports as a threat to the right to privacy.  It has been suggested that such systems are deeply discriminatory, and would lead to the creation of a two-tiered society of those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

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