Denmark exposes itself to return to ‘living normally’ with Omicron

Denmark said goodbye to face masks and health passes on Tuesday as it became the first country in the European Union to lift all of its internal covid restrictions despite a record number of cases of the milder variant of Omicron. Only a few country border restrictions remain for unvaccinated travelers arriving from non-Schengen countries. After a first attempt to lift restrictions between September and November, the Scandinavian country once again got rid of its Covid checks and limited the opening hours of bars and restaurants. “For me, the best part is that we no longer need to wear masks. At least now we have a choice, if we want to protect ourselves or if we want to feel free,” Natalia Chechetkina, a receptionist in Copenhagen, told AFP. Marie Touflet, a 23-year-old French student in the capital, said it was “quite strange to take the metro without a mask, compared to France”. “It’s really nice to be able to see people’s faces and it feels like we’re living normally again.” The easing comes as Denmark records around 40,000-50,000 new Covid cases a day, or nearly one percent of the country’s 5.8 million people. Health officials believe those numbers will soon begin to decline. “There are strong indications that the infection has peaked in the areas where it has been most pronounced,” Tyra Krause of Denmark’s public health and research institution SSI told the Ritzau news agency. “So it’s a very good time for restrictions to be eased,” he added. More than 60 per cent of Danes have received a third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, a month ahead of schedule by health authorities, compared with an EU average of just under 45 per cent. Including those who have recently had Covid, health authorities estimate that 80 percent of the population is protected against severe forms of the disease. “Since Omicron is not a serious disease for those vaccinated, we think it is reasonable to lift the restrictions,” epidemiologist Lone Simonsen from Roskilde University told AFP. Two years after the Covid-19 outbreak, the Danish strategy enjoys broad support at home. In a poll published on Monday by the daily Politiken, 64 percent of Danes surveyed said they had faith in the government’s covid policy, while lifting restrictions also has broad support in parliament. Personal responsibility In the future, Danes are urged to exercise personal responsibility. “Without a Covid pass there will be a shift in responsibility,” Simonsen said. The Danes have increasingly used home tests to detect infections, but these are now being phased out and anyone with symptoms is instead advised to stay home. The Danish Health Authority currently “recommends” those who test positive to isolate themselves for four days, while contact cases no longer need to quarantine. Masks and the Covid pass are also recommended for hospital visits. One of the few critics of the decision to lift the restrictions was the country’s Gout Association. “We think it’s important to keep wearing masks while the infection is spreading widely,” association director Mette Bryde Lind told Ritzau. The government said it does not expect to have to go back to lockdowns again, but has remained cautious. “We cannot offer any guarantees when it comes to biology,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said last week as she announced the country’s return “to life as we knew it before corona.” “It’s great that this is over, but will we really live without restrictions now? I doubt it,” said Cille Hjort, a fast food vendor. This is the second time that Denmark has tried to return to the pre-pandemic way of life. On September 10, the country lifted all of its restrictions before reintroducing some of them in early November. Museums, cinemas and theaters and concert halls closed just before Christmas and reopened in early January. Faced with a lower level of hospitalizations than in previous waves, several European countries, including France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, have announced the lifting or a considerable reduction of their restrictions, despite record or very high cases. “Two years into the pandemic, populations in most countries have reached high levels of immunity, due to vaccines or natural diseases,” Simonsen said. “That’s how it ends, judging from what we’ve seen with historical pandemics.” According to the World Health Organization, 73 percent of the European population has contracted Covid-19 at least once since January 2020. Read More Related World News Here | Europ News Today What do you think about this; Denmark exposes itself to return to ‘living normally’ with Omicron | Newslodge Nigeria News Let’s hear your opinion in the comment below!