Denmark to shut cinemas, theatres over Covid surge: PM

By: AFP
Published: 08:17 PM, 17 Dec, 2021
Omicron
Caption: Denmark to shut cinemas, theatres over Covid surge: PM
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Denmark announced Friday it would close cinemas, theatres and concert halls and restrict restaurant opening hours over a record number of daily Covid-19 cases, accelerated by the Omicron variant.

The government also plans to close other gathering places such as amusement parks and museums.

"Theatres, cinemas and concert halls, they will have to close," Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference.

"We need to limit our activity. We all need to limit our social contacts," she added.

This is a sharp turnaround for the Nordic country, which had lifted all restrictions on September 10, before reintroducing a coronapass at the beginning of November and then announcing a first round of restrictions last week. 

Dealing with new record numbers on a daily basis, the government has accelerated the rollout of booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines, authorised an anti-Covid pill treatment by US drugmaker Merck for serious cases and started gun vaccinations of children aged five to 11.

The Scandinavian country recorded a new all-time high of more than 11,000 cases in the past 24 hours, Frederiksen said.

Denmark, which sequences more samples than many other countries, is one of the countries in the world with the highest numbers of confirmed Omicron cases. More than 2,500 cases of the reportedly more transmissible variant have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

Restaurants and nightclubs will need to close at 11 pm, instead of the current limit of midnight, and alcohol sales will be banned after 10 pm.

Announced after a meeting of the country's party leaders, the measures announced Friday still need to be formally approved by parliament.

Unlike during earlier virus waves, Frederiksen said the government still planned to re-open schools after the holidays, even though the Christmas vacation has already been extended to counter the surge.

"Our aim is still to keep society as open as possible," she said, adding that more restrictive measures introduced in the spring of 2020 could be avoided "because we have vaccines."

Denmark has reported a total of 600,468 cases of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic and 3,054 associated deaths.

Some 500 people are currently hospitalised, including a few dozen in intensive care. Hospitals expect the number of hospitalisations to hit 1,000 in the country of 5.8 million people.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.