Denmark to scrap face masks from Monday

Denmark's government has struck a deal with all but one of the parties in parliament to on Monday end the requirement to wear a face mask in all areas apart from on public transport.

Denmark to scrap face masks from Monday
Denmark's health minister Magnus Heunicke announced the deal early on Thursday morning. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Under the agreement, struck after 3am following marathon all-night negotiations, the requirement to wear a face mask will be scrapped completely from October 1st.

The coronavirus health pass or coronapas will also begin to be phased out from Monday, when those visiting public libraries and participating in activities run by clubs and voluntary organisations will no longer be required to show one.

From August 1st, a valid coronapas will no longer be needed in theaters, concert venues, indoor sports activities, and a wide range of other venues, from September 1st, you will no longer need to show one in restaurants, the hairdresser or the gym, and on October 1st the pass will be phased out completely. 

The parties also agreed to extend opening hours of bars and restaurants from this Friday from 11pm to midnight, with closing time further pushed out to 2am on July 15th. 

The agreement also extends how long a negative PCR test provides a valid coronapas to 96 hours. 

“It is a marked opening of Danish society,” Magnus Heunicke, Denmark’s health minister said early on Thursday morning. 

“The infection is on the way down, 2.5 million people have received at least one vaccination dose, and the good weather is working in our favour,” he added in a press release

The government reached agreement with the Liberal Party, the Danish People’s Party, the Socialist People’s Party, the Social Liberal Party, the Red Green Alliance, the Conservatives, the Liberal Alliance and the Alternative. Only the populist New Right Party stood outside the deal. 

“This means that you can now go down and buy a litre of milk without having a face mask on,” Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the Danish People’s Party, said at the press conference. 

Here are the significant dates in the reopening agreement: 

June 11th: Opening hours of bars and restaurants extended to midnight 

June 12th: Number of spectators allowed at Parken football stadium increased from 15,900 to 25,000 

June 14th: Face masks no longer required apart from when standing on public transport 

June 14th: Coronapas no longer required in public libraries, and activities around voluntary organisations or clubs

June 14th: Kindergartens, primary schools, after school clubs, youth and adult education expected to return to normal timetable

July 1st:  Restaurants where customers “essentially sit down” no longer need to meet area requirements or follow distance recommendations 

July 15th: Opening hours of bars and restaurants extended to 2am

September 1st: Nightclubs and discos can reopen for those with valid coronapas 

October 1st: Coronapas no longer required anywhere 

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Italy cuts Covid isolation period as infection rate falls further

The isolation period for symptomatic Covid cases will be cut from seven days to five as Italy’s epidemiological situation improved again, according to an update from the health ministry on Wednesday.

Italy cuts Covid isolation period as infection rate falls further

The Italian health ministry signed off on a new set of Covid isolation rules on Wednesday after months of speculation about whether the isolation period in place all summer could be scrapped.

Under the update, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and shows symptoms must immediately self-isolate for five days instead of the previous seven, and must test negative – via either a molecular (PCR) or rapid antigen test – at the end of that period, as well as being asymptomatic for two days.

READ ALSO: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

Should the patient continue to test positive, they must remain in isolation until they get a negative test result. The maximum length of the isolation period was however cut to 14 days, down from 21.

Testing should be carried out at a registered pharmacy or testing centre. The results of home tests are not seen as valid for this purpose.

The isolation requirement applies to everyone including those who are fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid.

The changes came in a circular signed on Wednesday by the health ministry’s director of prevention, Gianni Rezza.

The circular, published on Thursday morning, said the rules had been relaxed “as a result of the cessation of the state of emergency” and based on health data analysis by Italy’s Higher Health Institute on August 24th.

The infection rate in Italy has been falling since mid-July.

The number of new infections recorded over the previous 24 hours on Wednesday was 21,817, with a test positivity rate of 13 percent.

Politicians from several parties criticised the decision to keep isolation rules in place, claiming this could affect voter turnout at elections on September 25th.

Italy’s outgoing health minister, Roberto Speranza, said this wasn’t an issue: “Just as with the last elections, there is the option of voting from home, as is done for the infirm,” he told news agency Ansa.

Italy does not currently require visitors from any country to test negative on arrival, as long as they are fully boosted, were recently vaccinated, or have recently recovered from Covid.

Read more about getting tested while in Italy in a separate article here.

For more information about Italy’s Covid health regulations, see the health ministry’s website.