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Denmark’s new reopening plan: Here’s what changes on May 21st

A parliamentary majority has agreed to allow all indoor businesses in Denmark, with the exception of nightclubs, to open from this Friday.

Denmark's new reopening plan: Here's what changes on May 21st
The vast majority of business and education will be open in Denmark as of May 21st. Filephoto:Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

That means all sports and cultural facilities yet to open under the previous plan to lift restrictions will be allowed to return to business this week. These include the likes of saunas and baths. Education including universities will also fully reopen.

As such, businesses and education will essentially open fully from this Friday, with the exception of nightclubs and discotheques.

A plan has meanwhile been presented to phase out working from home, face masks and corona passports in the longer term. We’ll have more on this in a separate article.

A text outlining the agreement was published by the Ministry of Justice.

READ ALSO: Denmark to fully reopen almost all schools and businesses this week

Here’s a closer look at what is set to change.

Leisure

A number of sports and leisure activities still currently under some form of restriction will find themselves able to open from Friday, including those which take place under the auspices of clubs and associations.

All of these have been given permission to reopen in the latest plan, although corona passport rules will still apply.

Some examples of leisure activities which can now look forward to an imminent return are saunas and baths, community centres and activity centres.

Music schools can also now return to normal activity.

Universities and higher education

Higher education can now return at 100 percent capacity on May 21st. The previous version of the reopening plan only allowed universities to open for 50 percent of students on that date.

All other adult education institutions, which have been allowed to reopen to varying extents, can now also return to normal capacity. Corona passports remain a requirement for students.

Part-time courses at institutions such as the Folkeuniversitet (People’s University) can also return to normal (with corona passports).

Inside areas at theme parks and zoos

Attractions such as Copenhagen Zoo or the Tivoli amusement park were allowed to open their outdoors sections earlier in the year, but have had to keep indoor areas shut off. That will change on Friday, provided guests have a corona passport.

This also means that aquariums, children’s play centres and all other primarily indoor attractions can open.

Working from home to be phased out

Many people who work in the public and private centres have spent what seems like endless months working from home, with the government mandating employers provide for this wherever possible since earlier in the pandemic.

A return to offices and shared workspaces is to occur in three steps, according to Monday night’s agreement.

In the first phase, which begins on Friday, 20 percent capacity will be allowed while remaining staff must continue to work from home where possible. The proportion will increase to 50 percent on June 14th and 100 percent on August 1st.

Public assembly

The public assembly limit is scheduled to increase on Friday from 25 to 50 persons indoors and from 75 to 100 persons outdoors. That is in keeping with the existing plan for reopening.

What doesn’t change?

Nightclubs and discotheques are alone as businesses not allowed to reopen by the updated plan, while the schedule for lifting assembly limits remains unchanged. Recently-released rules for large-scale events are not covered by the agreement. Travel restrictions are also separate.

Under current rules, cafes, bars and restaurants must stop service at 10pm and establishments must be closed from 11pm until 5am.

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COVID-19 RULES

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

The health ministry is reviewing its quarantine requirements as the country's Covid-19 health situation improved again this week, according to Italian media reports.

Will Italy drop its Covid isolation rule as the infection rate falls?

Italy has taken a more cautious approach to Covid in recent months than many of its European neighbours, keeping strict isolation rules in place for anyone who tests positive for the virus.

But this could be set to change in the coming days, according to media reports, as one of Italy’s deputy health ministers said the government is about to cut the isolation period for asymptomatic cases.

“Certainly in the next few days there will be a reduction in isolation for those who are positive but have no symptoms,” Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa said in a TV interview on the political talk show Agorà on Tuesday.

“We have to manage to live with the virus,” he said.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported that the compulsory isolation period could be reduced to 48 hours for those who test positive but remain asymptomatic – provided they subsequently test negative after the day two mark.

Under Italy’s current rules, vaccinated people who test positive must stay in isolation for at least seven days, and unvaccinated people for ten days – regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms.

READ ALSO: How tourists and visitors can get a coronavirus test in Italy

At the end of the isolation period, the patient has to take another test to exit quarantine. Those who test negative are free to leave; those who remain positive must stay in isolation until they get a negative test result, up to a maximum of 21 days in total (at which point it doesn’t matter what the test result says).

Health ministry sources indicated the new rules would cut the maximum quarantine period to 15 or even 10 days for people who continue to test positive after the initial isolation period is up, La Stampa said.

The government is believed to be reviewing the rules as the latest official data showed Covid infection and hospitalisation rates were slowing again this week, as the current wave of contagions appeared to have peaked in mid-July.

However, the national Rt number (which shows the rate of transmission) remained above the epidemic threshold, and the number of fatalities continued to rise.

The proposed changes still aren’t lenient enough for some parties. Regional authorities have been pushing for an end to quarantine altogether, even for people who are actively positive – an idea Costa appears sympathetic to.

“The next step I think is to consider the idea of even eliminating the quarantine, perhaps by wearing a mask and therefore being able to go to work,” he told reporters.

“We must review the criteria for isolation, to avoid blocking the country again”.

At least one health expert, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

Dr Nino Cartabellotta, head of Italy’s evidence-based medicine group Gimbe, tweeted on Tuesday: “There are currently no epidemiological or public health reasons to abolish the isolation of Covid-19 positives”

Massimo Andreoni, professor of Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Tor Vergata University of Rome, was more ambivalent about the prospect.

The isolation requirement for asymptomatic cases should be “revised somewhat in the light of the epidemiological data”, he told reporters, but urged “a minimum of precaution, because the less the virus circulates and the fewer severe cases there are, the fewer new variants arise”.

When the question was last raised at the end of June, Health Minister Roberto Speranza was firmly against the idea of lifting quarantine requirements for people who were Covid positive.

“At the moment such a thing is not in question,” he told newspaper La Repubblica at the time. “Anyone who is infected must stay at home.”

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