Denmark announces reopening once all over 50s vaccinated

By: AFP      Published: 10:56 PM, 23 Mar, 2021
Denmark announces reopening once all over 50s vaccinated

Denmark, which has been under a partial lockdown for the last three months, says it will reopen most of society once everyone over 50 years old are vaccinated.

In an announcement late Monday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen unveiled the plan for a return to normal which will see schools and universities, shops, restaurants and bars, libraries, museums and cinemas gradually reopen over a period of two months. 

"With a few exceptions, Danish society should be open when everyone over the age of 50 has been vaccinated," set to be done by the end of May, she said.

As of April 6, secondary school students will return to classrooms, albeit every other week, while the Scandinavian country reopened primary schools in February.

In the country of 5.8 million inhabitants, the numbers of new cases are one fourth of what was recorded in December when the government decided to lock down, in contrast to other European countries currently seeing rising cases again.

"We will proceed with caution. We can open up more now in Denmark, in contrast to several other countries, where the third wave of corona is a reality," Mette Frederiksen stressed.

Denmark has previously announced plans for the introduction of a "corona passport," which will serve as a crucial part of the reopening.

Set up as a smartphone application, the "corona passport" certifies that the holder has had a negative test in the last 72 hours, a vaccination or has recently recovered from Covid-19, conferring immunity to the disease.

Paper certificates are also being distributed to vaccinated Danes or those who have tested negative but do not have a smartphone. 

Starting on April 6, the passports will be required for people wanting to go to hairdressers, and for when outdoor service of food and drinks resumes on April 21.

Likewise for restaurants which are scheduled to open on May 6 and then a slew of other activites when most businesses will be allowed to reopen on May 21.

However, the government remained vague on when major sporting and cultural events could see audiences return, of particular interest as Denmark will host some of the football matches in the European Championship in late June.

In Denmark, 5.4 percent of the population has currently been fully vaccinated and 10.9 percent has received a first dose.

The country still has the AstraZeneca jab on hold pending further investigation of reports of side effects, which has slowed the vaccination rollout.