Denmark is celebrating its Freedom Day today as it lifts its latest Covid-19 restriction, declaring that the virus “no longer poses a threat to society thanks to the vaccine”.
The latest measure to be scrapped was vaccine passports in nightclubs, which were introduced in March 2021 as Copenhagen slowly began to relax restrictions.
On September 1, they have been abolished in all other locations, except in nightclubs, where they will no longer be needed from Friday.
With no masks in sight, bustling offices and concerts drawing tens of thousands, Denmark was already well on its way back to business as usual, crediting the country’s successful rollout with easing restrictions.
“We are definitely ahead in Denmark because we have no restrictions, and we are now on the other side of the pandemic thanks to the rollout of vaccinations,” Ulrik Orum-Petersen, a promoter at event organizer Live Nation, told AFP news agency. .
Pictured: Nightlife guests crowding for the ‘Rumors’ nightclub on Copenhagen’s Noerregade Street last week. As of Friday, nightclubs will no longer need vaccine passports, meaning the last coronavirus measure in the country has been lifted
On Saturday, a sold-out concert in Copenhagen will welcome 50,000 people, a first in Europe.
Already on September 4, Live Nation organized its first open-air festival, appropriately called ‘Back to Live’, which attracted 15,000 people in Copenhagen.
“Being in the crowd, singing like before, almost made me forget about Covid and everything we’ve been through over the past few months,” said Emilie Bendix, 26, a concert goer.
Denmark’s vaccination campaign has been rapid, with 73 percent of its 5.8 million population fully vaccinated and 96 percent of those over 65.
“We are aiming for free movement… What will happen now is that the virus will circulate and find those who have not been vaccinated,” epidemiologist Lone Simonsen told AFP.
“Thanks to the vaccine, the virus is no longer a social threat,” says Simonsen, who works at the University of Roskilde.
According to the World Health Organization, the Scandinavian country has benefited from the public’s compliance with government guidelines and the adopted Covid strategy.
Denmark, like many other countries, has taken public health and social measures during the pandemic to reduce transmission.
But at the same time, it has relied heavily on individuals and communities to cooperate voluntarily,” said Catherine Smallwood, WHO Europe Emergency Response Officer.
In the photo: Thousands of maskless football fans cheer their national team on Tuesday in Copenhagen for a World Cup qualifier against Israel. On Saturday, a sold-out concert in Copenhagen will welcome 50,000 people, a first in Europe
Nightlife guests are seen in the ‘Det Elektriske Hjoerne’ bar in Copenhagen during the night between September 2 and 3, 2021
With about 500 daily Covid cases and a reproduction rate of 0.7, the Danish authorities say they have the virus under control.
However, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke has vowed that the government will not hesitate to re-impose restrictions soon if necessary.
The authorities insist that the return to normal life must be accompanied by strict hygiene measures and the isolation of sick people.
The WHO continues to view the global situation as critical and calls for caution.
“Every country must remain vigilant if and when the epidemiological situation changes,” Smallwood said.
Denmark has said it will closely monitor the number of hospital admissions – currently just under 130 – and conduct meticulous sequencing to track the virus.
A third dose has also been available for risk groups since Thursday.
Pictured: Maskless Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen arrives at the Kastellet military headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday, September 5, 2021, on the official Flag Day in honor of Denmark’s soldiers deployed through the ages
Pictured: Hundreds of maskless Danish football fans throng on benches to watch Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier
Simonsen said the vaccines so far have provided immunity to variants “but if escape variants (resistant to the vaccine) show up, we’ll have to rethink our strategy.”
Christian Nedergaard, owner of several restaurants and wine bars in Copenhagen, said that while everyone is happy with the return to normal life, “the situation is still complicated.”
“The memory of the coronavirus will disappear from the minds of some people very quickly, but not everyone, and for restaurants, this period has certainly been a game-changer,” he said.
‘The industry needs to think about how to become more resilient.’
Travelers entering Denmark are still required to present a vaccine passport or a negative PCR test, and masks are mandatory at airports.