Denmark will on Tuesday become the first country in the European Union to lift all its Covid restrictions despite a record number of cases, relying on its high vaccination rate to cope with the milder variant of Omicron.
After an initial attempt to lift all of its restrictions between September and November, the Scandinavian country is once again ditching its face masks, Covid passes and limited opening hours for bars and restaurants, AFP reports.
“I’m so happy it’s all over tomorrow. It’s good for city life, for nightlife, just to be able to go out longer,” Thea Skovgaard, a 17-year-old student, told AFP the day before the lifting.
Nightclubs reopen on Tuesday, when limits on the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings also end.
Only a few restrictions remain in place at the country’s borders, for unvaccinated travelers from non-Schengen countries.
The easing comes as Denmark registers around 40,000 to 50,000 new Covid cases per day, almost 1% of the country’s 5.8 million people.
“We have extremely high coverage of adults vaccinated with three doses,” epidemiologist Lone Simonsen from Roskilde University told AFP.
More than 60% of Danes received a third dose – a month ahead of the health authorities’ schedule – compared to a European average of just under 45%.
Including those who have recently had Covid, health authorities estimate that 80% of the population is protected against serious forms of the disease.
“Omicron is not a serious disease for vaccinees, so we think it’s reasonable to lift the restrictions,” Simonsen said.
Widespread distribution of the Omicron variant should also lead to “more robust and long-lasting immunity”, helping the country fend off future waves, she said.
Two years after the Covid-19 outbreak, the Danish strategy enjoys broad support in the country.
In a poll published by daily Politiken on Monday, 64% of Danes surveyed said they had confidence in the government’s Covid policy.