Denmark will on Tuesday become the first European Union country to lift all its Covid restrictions despite record numbers of cases, relying on its high vaccination rate to cope with the milder Omicron variant.
After an initial attempt to lift all restrictions between September and November, the Scandinavian country is once again waiving face masks, Covid passports and restricted opening times for bars and restaurants, AFP reports.
“I’m so glad this will all be over tomorrow. It’s good for city life, for nightlife, just to be outside longer,” 17-year-old student Thea Skovgaard said the day before AFP was lifted.
Nightclubs will reopen on Tuesday, when restrictions on the number of people at indoor gatherings also end.
Few restrictions remain at national borders for unvaccinated travelers arriving from non-Schengen countries.
The easing comes as Denmark is registering around 40,000 to 50,000 new Covid cases every day, or nearly one percent of the country’s 5.8 million population.
“We have extremely high coverage of adults who have been vaccinated with three doses,” Roskilde University epidemiologist Lone Simonsen told AFP.
More than 60% of Danes have received a third dose – a month ahead of health authorities’ schedule – compared with an EU average of just under 45%.
Including those who have recently fallen ill with Covid, health officials estimate that 80% of the population is protected from severe forms of the disease.
“Since Omicron is not a serious disease for those who have been vaccinated, we think it is reasonable to lift the restrictions,” said Simonsen.
Widespread distribution of the Omicron variant is also expected to result in “more robust and long-lasting immunity” and help the country ward off future waves, she said.
Two years after the outbreak of Covid-19, the Danish strategy enjoys broad domestic support.
In a survey published by the daily Politiken on Monday, 64% of Danes polled said they believed in the government’s Covid policy.