Danes could have to keep their distance for ‘at least a year’

People in Denmark should be prepared to follow social distancing guidelines for at least a year, the director of the country's infectious diseases institute Kåre Mølbak has warned.

Danes could have to keep their distance for 'at least a year'
Can social distancing be put in place at art galleries such as Louisiana: Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix
In an interview with the country's Berlingske newspaper, Mølbak said he doubted Danes would be able to shake hands, hug, or attend concerts or the theatre for months, or possibly even for more than a year.  
“This means that we do not need to get together for a Friday lunch at work, and it also means that we should return to giving one another handshakes, hugs and pecks on the cheek,” he said. “However, we can of course meet by other means, for example by Skype or Zoom, as many already are today.” 
He said, he could imagine some cultural institutions finding ways to safely let people back, but that cultural events or large numbers of people would be out of the question for months to come. 
“Maybe we can also, for example, find ways of visiting Louisiana [a popular art gallery outside Copenhagen], where we don't let so many people in at once,” he suggested.  
In the interview, Mølbak said he doubted a vaccine would be ready in months, as some now hope.
But he conceded that Denmark could not remain in full lockdown for as long as a year.  
“We evidently cannot shot down everything until we have a vaccine, but [any opening] must be under conditions where people can keep their distance. But there are probably some things that cannot be resumed until we have a vaccine.” 
Pelle Guldborg Hansen, a behavioural researcher at Roskilde University, said he didn't think it would be possible for Danes to maintain social distancing for so long. 
“We are social beings. To refrain from hugging and meeting and engaging in social activities such as sports, parties and café life, I find it difficult to see that you can stop this,” he said. 
He predicted that adherence to social distancing guidelines would start to slip. 
“If the numbers go up significantly, then the Danes will probably think again, he said. “But if the situation carries on as it is now, we probably won't stick to them. There needs to be a change before Danes will be willing to do it in the long run, and even then it will be problematic.” 

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EXPLAINED: Has Italy still got any Covid rules in place?

Italy is blissfully free of Covid restrictions this summer - or is it? Here's what you need to know about the country's few remaining rules.

EXPLAINED: Has Italy still got any Covid rules in place?

If you thought Italy’s Covid rules ought to have more or less expired by now, you’d be right – almost. 

There are essentially no travel restrictions, no vaccination or testing obligations, and very few situations in which people are required to mask up.

However, a few nationwide health rules do remain in place that are worth knowing about.

Here’s what they are.


One notable exception to Italy’s Covid rule relaxations is the continued requirement to wear a mask in parts of health and residential care facilities that house vulnerable or immunosuppressed patients.

This rule had been due to expire on April 30th, but was renewed by decree on April 29th and will remain in place until the end of the year.

READ ALSO: What to expect when travelling to Italy in summer 2023

That means if you work in such a facility or need to visit a friend or family member there, you should come equipped with a mask.

Under-6’s, people whose disability prevents them from wearing a mask, and carers for whom wearing a mask would prevent them from communicating with a disabled patient are the only exceptions.


Then there are the quarantine rules.

‘Italy still has quarantine rules?!’ you ask incredulously.

According to former health director Giovanni Rezza, who retired this May, the answer is yes.

It was Rezza who signed off on a health ministry decree dated December 31st, 2022 that established the country’s latest quarantine restrictions.

Tourists visiting Italy no longer face Covid-related restrictions, though rules may apply in some circumstances. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

That decree says that those who test positive but are asymptomatic must self-isolate for five days, or until they test negative at a pharmacy or health facility – whichever happens sooner.

Those who do experience symptoms should either test negative before exiting quarantine, or wait until they are symptomless for at least two days.

At the end of the isolation period, those who have left quarantine without taking a test are required to wear a high-grade FFP2 mask in public until the tenth day since the onset of symptoms or first positive test result.

READ ALSO: What are the upcoming strikes in Italy and how could they impact you?

People who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid should wear an FFP2 mask in public until the fifth day since the last point of contact.

Earlier this month, Rezza told journalists at the national broadcaster Rai that since no expiration date was stipulated, the decree remains in force indefinitely.

The health ministry doesn’t appear to have weighed in on the matter, so for now it should be assumed that the quarantine rules are still active.

Of course, this all relies on the honour system, as most Covid tests these days are taken (if at all) in people’s own homes without the knowledge or involvement of state health authorities.


Finally, there have been some recent reports of new international travel restrictions specifically relating to China.

There has been talk of Italy’s airports reintroducing tests for arrivals from China. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Towards the end of May, newspapers La Stampa and La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno reported that Covid tests had been reintroduced at Italy’s airports for arrivals from China, which has seen an uptick in cases.

However, neither the health ministry website nor the Foreign Ministry’s Viaggiare Sicuri (‘Travel Safe’) website appear to have published any updates to this effect.

In December 2022, Italy’s health ministry mandated that all arrivals from China must produce a recent negative test result before leaving for Italy and to take a test on arrival, though this rule was due to expire at the end of January.