Denmark is the First in Europe to Return to Normal LifeEU | February 1, 2022, Tuesday // 11:52| views
Denmark on Tuesday became the first European Union country to lift all restrictions on Covid-19, AFP reported. The country plans to deal with the lighter variant of Omicron, despite the record number of cases, relying on the high level of vaccination.
After the first attempt to remove all restrictions between September and November, the Scandinavian country is again abandoning face masks, health passes and limited working hours for bars and restaurants.
“I am so happy that all this will end tomorrow. It is good for city life, for nightlife, just to be able to be out longer,” 17-year-old student Thea Skovgaard told AFP on the eve of the lifting of measures.
Nightclubs reopen on Tuesday when the limit on the number of people allowed for indoor gatherings ends.
There are only a few restrictions left on the country's borders for unvaccinated passengers arriving from non-Schengen countries.
Relief comes as Denmark registers about 40,000-50,000 new cases of covid-19 per day or almost one percent of the country's 5.8 million people.
“We have an extremely high range of adults vaccinated with three doses,” epidemiologist Lone Simonsen of the University of Roskilde told AFP.
More than 60 percent of Danes received a third dose - a month before the health authorities' schedule - compared to the EU average of just under 45 percent.
Health officials estimate that 80 percent of the population, including those who have recently become ill, is protected against severe forms of the disease.
“As Omicron is not a serious disease for vaccinated people, we believe it is wise to remove the restrictions,” Simonsen said.
The widespread use of Omicron is also expected to lead to “stronger and longer-lasting immunity”, which will help the country repel future waves, she said.
Two years after the outbreak of Covid-19, the Danish strategy has enjoyed widespread support at home.
In a poll published Monday by the daily Politiken, 64% of Danes said they believed in the government's policy on Covid-19.
In the future, the Danes will bear personal responsibility, Simonsen said.
“Without a pass for Covid-19, there will be a transfer of responsibility,” she said.
Danes are increasingly using home tests to detect infection, but they are now being phased out, and anyone with symptoms is advised to stay home instead.
The Danish Health Service currently “recommends” those who test positive to be isolated for four days, while contact cases should no longer be quarantined.
Face masks and health omissions are also recommended for hospital visits.
The government said it did not expect to have to return to new restrictions, but remained cautiously optimistic.
“We cannot provide any guarantees when it comes to biology,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said last week when he announced the country's return to “the life we knew before the coronavirus.”
“It's really good that this is over, but will we really live without any restrictions now? I doubt it,” said Sille Hort, a fast-food vendor eager to see his masked customers' faces again.
This is the second time Denmark has tried to return to the pre-pandemic lifestyle.
On September 10th, the country lifted all its restrictions before reintroducing some of them in early November.
Then museums, cinemas, theaters and concert halls were closed just before Christmas and reopened in early January.
Faced with lower hospitalizations than in previous waves, several European countries, including France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, have announced lifting or significantly lowering restrictions, despite records or a very high number of cases.
“Two years after the pandemic, the population in most countries has reached high levels of immunity from vaccines or natural immunity after illness,” said Simonsen.
“That's how it ends, judging by what we've seen with historical pandemics.”
According to the World Health Organization, 73% of the European population has been infected with Covid-19 at least once since January 2020.
Tyra Krause of the Danish Institute of Public Health and Research SSI, meanwhile, said she expects Covid-19 to return to regular waves, “like the flu”.
“We may need to vaccinate at-risk groups before the fall to prevent serious cases,” she told the scientific journal Videnskab.
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