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FEATURE

‘It’s a very special day’: Denmark reacts to reopening of cafes, restaurants and museums

Denmark's bars, cafes, restaurants and museums reopened on Wednesday, giving life in the capital Copenhagen a semblance of normalcy as the spread of Covid-19 was deemed stable.

‘It's a very special day’: Denmark reacts to reopening of cafes, restaurants and museums
People returned to restaurants and cafes in Denmark on Wednesday. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Scandinavian country decided last week to speed up its reopening. On Wednesday evening, fans were to be allowed to return to the stands to watch the final match of the Superliga, Denmark’s first division football league.

Denmark enters new phase of reopening plan: Here’s what changed on Wednesday

“The pandemic is not over … but it feels like it’s coming towards the last chapter,” Darcy Millar, who owns a cafe in central Copenhagen, told AFP.

On the terrace of her cafe, regulars were delighted to sit down and sip their coffee out of “real” cups.

“You had to take it for a take-away … when it was pretty cold and that was frustrating,” said Dominic Parr, a 26-year-old local.

But now “it’s fantastic, I’m very happy.”

A few kilometres away, the National Museum has set up small tents to check that each visitor is wearing a face mask and is the holder of a “corona pass”.

The pass — which confirms that a person has either tested negative in the past 72 hours, been vaccinated, or recently recovered from Covid-19 — is required to enter museums and sit down at restaurants, where reservations are mandatory except at outdoor terraces.

Corona passport: What you need to know about Danish Covid-19 vaccine and test documentation

National Museum officials were thrilled about things regaining a sense of normalcy.

“It’s a very special day, to reopen after five months,” rejoiced deputy director Anni Mogensen.

Despite the reopenings, secondary school students remain partially in distance learning and many people are still working from home. 

Nightclubs remain closed, but cinemas, theatres and concert halls are scheduled to reopen on May 6th.

The government has said that targeted closures may be necessary if the spread of the virus were to accelerate.

With 5.8 million inhabitants, Denmark has seen its new cases of Covid-19 fall to a level four times lower than in December, when it went into a partial lockdown with the closure of schools and non-essential shops, which have since reopened.

The Danish vaccination campaign has meanwhile been slowed by its decision to drop the AstraZeneca vaccine entirely due to concerns over rare but serious side effects, but all adults are expected to be fully vaccinated by August.

So far, 9.3 percent of the population has received two doses and 19.3 percent has received their first dose.

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COVID-19 RULES

Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed. 

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