Denmark marks 'freedom day' with concert for 50,000 as last Covid-19 restriction dropped

The country has benefitted from public compliance with government guidelines, says WHO

Crowds outside a club in Copenhagen. Denmark is removing its last Covid-19 restriction as cases continue to fall. AFP
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Denmark has dropped its last coronavirus restriction, with the country no longer considering Covid-19 “a socially critical disease”.

Danish health experts said low numbers of new cases, about 500 a day, a high vaccination rate and a low infection rate mean the last restriction – a digital health pass – can be removed.

“We're aiming for free movement … What will happen now is that the virus will circulate and it will find the ones who are not vaccinated,” epidemiologist Lone Simonsen, from Roskilde University.

“Now the virus is no longer a societal threat, thanks to the vaccine.”

After 548 days with restrictions to limit the spread, Denmark is looking to the future as the first EU nation to completely lift restrictions.

On Saturday, a sold-out concert in Copenhagen will be attended by 50,000 people.

Denmark benefitted from public compliance with government guidelines and the Covid-19 strategy adopted, the World Health Organisation said.

In April, only outside service was allowed in Denmark. Now the country is lifting its last coronavirus restrictions. AP

A digital health pass, used as proof of vaccination for entry into venues such as nightclubs, was the last remaining restriction.

A similar health pass in France has been highly controversial.

“I wouldn’t say it is too early. We have opened the door but we have also said that we can close it, if needed,” said Soeren Riis Paludan, a professor of virology at Aarhus University.

As of midnight, the Danish government no longer considered Covid-19 “a socially critical disease”, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.

More than 80 per cent of people above the age of 12 have had the two shots of vaccine against the coronavirus. With about 500 new cases a day and a reproduction rate of 0.7, fewer people are getting infected.

Denmark started easing restrictions when a majority of the 50+ age group had received both vaccine shots.

On August 14, it dropped face mask rules on public transport. On September 1, limits on public gatherings were removed.

“We are definitely at the forefront in Denmark as we have no restrictions, and we are now on the other side of the pandemic, thanks to the vaccination roll-out,” event promoter Ulrik Orum-Petersen said.

The only mandatory requirement still in force revolves around international travel, so people at airports must still wear masks and strict entry restrictions apply for non-Danes.

Other countries are also lifting restrictions to varying degrees.

In the UK, most restrictions have been lifted but there is still a face mask requirement on public transport.

In Denmark’s neighbour Sweden – which stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response to the pandemic – the government said most restrictions, including limits on private and public gatherings and the advice to work from home, will be removed on September 29.

Updated: September 10, 2021, 11:41 AM