Denmark confirms plan to reintroduce face mask rules

The Danish government said on Wednesday it plans to reintroduce face mask requirements on public transport and in supermarkets and other consumer settings. Rules relating to the coronapas Covid-19 health pass could also be broadened.

Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke briefs press on the plan to reintroduce facemask rules in response to a winter 2021 surge of Covid-19 cases.
Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke briefs press on the plan to reintroduce facemask rules in response to a winter 2021 surge of Covid-19 cases. Photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke confirmed at a ministry press briefing on Wednesday that the government will seek to reimplement face mask rules requiring the protective garment to be worn on public transport and in stores.

“We have a different epidemic in front of us now. The Delta variant is much more infectious and it is a challenge for us. We must therefore put these tools into use,” Heunicke said.

The government also wants to bring back face mask requirements in health and social care settings such as hospitals, clinics and community care.

The move, which is a recommendation from the government’s advisory Epidemic Commission, must not be opposed by the relevant parliamentary committee in order to come into effect.

The committee will meet tomorrow, Heunicke said at the briefing.

Should the committee approve the measure, it could come into effect from Monday November 29th, the minister said.

A total of 4,426 new cases of the virus were confirmed by infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI) on Wednesday. That is the highest figure yet in 2021, breaking the record set 24 hours prior.

Face mask rules were previously in place in Denmark from autumn 2020 before being phased out during summer 2021, and were fully lifted in August.

In addition to the return of face masks, the government wants to change the rules on the Covid-19 health pass used in Denmark, the coronapas.

Specifically, the period for which a negative Covid-19 test gives a valid coronapas will be reduced to 72 hours for a negative PCR test and 48 hours for a negative rapid antigen test.

Currently, unvaccinated people can hold a valid coronapas for 96 hours through a negative PCR test, or 72 hours with a rapid antigen test.

“The old rules prevent 50 percent of infections. The new rules prevent two thirds of infections [compared to not using a coronapas in the same settings, ed.],” Henrik Ullum, the head of the national infectious disease agency SSI, said at the briefing.

The health pass will also be extended to be required at public sector workplaces and vocational and youth colleges (voksen- og ungdomsuddannelser), as well as at hairdressers, tattooists and similar services. Visitors to elderly care homes will also be required to present a coronapas.

It is currently required at bars, cafes, restaurants and large events.

The director of the Danish Health Authority Søren Brostrøm said at the briefing that health authorities were not in favour of applying coronapas rules to public transport.

“It would be a big job to check for a green coronapas on public transport. We have therefore concluded that face masks would be the most efficient (option),” Brostrøm said.

“You might also need to be on public transport without a green coronapas because you are on your way to get a test,” he noted.

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Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

It will still be obligatory for passengers to wear masks on flights to Italy until mid-June, despite the end of the EU-wide requirement on Monday, May 16th, the Italian government has confirmed.

Masks to remain mandatory on Italian flights after May 16th

The Italian government reiterated on Friday that its current mask-wearing rules remain in place until June 15th, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This means the mask mandate will still apply to all air passengers travelling to or from Italy, despite the end of an EU-wide requirement to wear masks on flights and at airports across the bloc from Monday.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What type of mask will I need for travel to Italy?

National regulations take precedence, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) confirmed when announcing the end of the EU rules.

“Wearing face masks at airports and inflight should be aligned with national measures on wearing masks in public transport and transport hubs,” they said in a joint statement published on May 11th.

READ ALSO: Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

“If either the departure or destination States require the wearing of face masks on public transport, aircraft operators should require passengers and crew to comply with those requirements inflight, beyond 16 May 2022.

“Further, as of 16 May 2022, aircraft operators, during their pre-flight communications as well as during the flight, should continue to encourage their passengers and crew members to wear face masks during the flight as well as in the airport, even when wearing a face mask is not required”.

The Spanish government also said on Thursday that air passengers would have to continue wearing face masks on planes.

Italy’s current rules specify that higher-grade FFP2 masks should be worn on all forms of public transport, including buses, trams, regional and high-speed trains, ferries, and planes.

Though rules were eased in some settings from May 1st, masks also remain a requirement until June 15th at Italy’s cinemas and theatres, hospitals and care homes, indoor sporting event and concert venues, schools and universities.