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CORONAPAS

What are Denmark’s current coronapas rules?

The validity period for Denmark’s Covid-19 health pass, the coronapas, looks likely to be reduced. The health documentation is currently required in a range of settings.

Denmark's Covid-19 health pass, the coronapas, must currently be presented in a range of settings.
Denmark's Covid-19 health pass, the coronapas, must currently be presented in a range of settings. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Health Authority wants to reduce the validity period of the coronapas following the second vaccine dose and after recovery from infection from Covid-19, the authority said in a press statement on Thursday January 6th.

The basis for the decision is Denmark’s high infection rate with the coronavirus currently, as well as the decline in the efficacy of vaccines against the Omicron variant within six months of their administration, the health authority said.

Under current rules, a coronapas is valid for seven months after a person is fully vaccinated or has received a booster jab.

Recovery from Covid-19, giving conferred immunity, gives a valid coronapas for six months.

The validity of the health pass would be reduced to five months in both cases should the rule change advocated by the Danish Health Authority be implemented.

Parliamentary approval is required for the rule change to come into effect. This looks likely at the time of writing, with a majority of parties already stating support for the move.

READ ALSO: Denmark considers reducing Covid-19 health pass vaccine validity

A valid coronapas is currently required at bars, restaurants, cafes and other businesses with a licence to serve alcohol. Takeaway businesses are exempted from the requirement. Nightclubs are currently closed.

Other customer-facing businesses in the service sector are also required to ask customers to present a valid coronapas. These include hairdressers, tattoo parlours, beauty and massage clinics, solariums (if staffed), driving schools and driving test centres.

The health pass must also be presented on intercity trains (the InterCity and InterCityLyn services operated by national rail company DSB). This means tickets and travel cards are rendered invalid without a green coronapas. It must also be shown on regional buses.

A coronapas must also be shown in some educational settings, but not at elementary schools (folkeskoler). It is required at universities, language schools and other vocational and further education institutions.

Places of work are allowed by the current restrictions to ask staff to provide a valid coronapas in order to work on-site. Public sector staff (employees of the state or regional authorities) must all have a valid coronapas.

The health pass is additionally required to use gyms and swimming pools and at places of worship. In the latter case, the requirement only applies for congregations over 100 indoors and over 1,000 outdoors. It is therefore required for normal religious services as well as marriages, funeral, christenings and other religious rites if they take place with congregations over the relevant number.

In the social and health care sector, visitors to care homes and other social care facilities must have a valid coronapas. This also applies at hospitals although next of kin can be exempted. Children under the age of 15 are exempted in these settings, and guardians and lawyers or other forms of representative or carer can also be granted an exemption.

When travelling or returning to Denmark from abroad, you may be asked to provide a valid Covid-19 health pass, depending on the entry rules that apply to you.

Businesses, private cultural institutions and organisations are meanwhile allowed by the law to make stricter coronapas (or face mask) requirements of guest than those set out by the law. Any extra rules put into place must not be discriminative.

Coronapas requirements do not apply to children under the age of 15 and persons who have received municipal approval of an exemption. Such an exemption must be signed and issued by the municipality.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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