Denmark confirms plan to reintroduce face mask rules

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
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.

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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