COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark aims to scrap all remaining domestic COVID-19 restrictions next week, following on from similar announcements in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands in the past week despite high numbers of Omicron infections in Europe.
The Nordic country already loosened restrictions two weeks ago after a month-long lockdown, allowing cinemas and music venues to reopen, but some rules remain, including limited opening hours for restaurants and mandatory face masks.
In a letter to parliament, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the government intends to follow recommendations issued by an expert panel on Tuesday to scrap all restrictions by Feb 1.
The government’s decision, which is subject to parliamentary approval, will be the most far-reaching easing of curbs seen among the Nordic countries.
Nightclubs can reopen and restaurants will be able to serve alcohol after 10 pm; customers won’t need to present vaccine passes upon entry. Commuters can take the bus without having to wear a face mask and shops can lift limits on customer numbers.
If the changes are approved, the only rules that will remain are those covering test and isolation on entry to Denmark, which will stay in place for another four weeks.
The UK, Ireland and the Netherlands have in the last week announced similar decisions to remove most coronavirus curbs even though infections with the Omicron variant remain high. Among reasons given were case numbers dropping below peaks and lower numbers of hospitalisations than feared.
Denmark logged 46,590 new cases on Tuesday, slightly below a peak of 47,831 on Friday. The number of coronavirus-related hospitalisations rose to 918, the highest in a year.
But health authorities have estimated between 30%-40% of those currently in hospital with a positive coronavirus test are there for other reasons than COVID-19.
“There has been a decoupling between the trend that was applicable earlier in the epidemic, between increasing infection and increase in COVID hospitalisations,” the expert advisory panel said in a report dated Jan 21.
Since a peak of 82 on Jan. 6, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has fallen steadily to 44 on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; editing by Philippa Fletcher)