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Denmark To Drop COVID-19 Restrictions, Welcome Back ‘Life We Knew Before’

(Photo by OLAFUR STEINAR GESTSSON/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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Denmark is ending virtually all of its COVID-19 restrictions so the country can move back to life as normal.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Wednesday that beginning Feb. 1, Danes will be free to go to restaurants, museums, clubs and other indoor facilities without wearing face masks. After that date, the government will only recommend masks be worn in hospitals, health care facilities and care facilities for the elderly such as nursing homes.

Right now, masks are required to be worn on public transportation, inside restaurants and other indoor businesses like shops, as well as in health care facilities. But Frederiksen said it is time to move on to post-COVID life by bringing back pre-pandemic norms.

“We say goodbye to the restrictions and welcome the life we knew before,” she said. “As of Feb. 1, Denmark will be open.”

Denmark has seen a major surge in COVID-19 cases during the Omicron wave, but deaths have lagged behind, failing to surpass levels seen in winter 2020-2021 despite far higher case numbers. Frederiksen said the wave isn’t putting high stress on the health care system, as the vast majority of them aren’t serious and the country has a high vaccination rate.

“It may seem strange that we want to remove restrictions given the high infection rates,” she said. “But fewer people become seriously ill.”

Only 40 people in the entire country of nearly 6 million are in hospital’s ICU units, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said.

Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe to close public schools and send home government employees in 2020, according to The Associated Press. Now, it’s leading the way in a return to normalcy after engineering one of the west’s most successful pandemic responses. (RELATED: REPORT: Staff At WHO Office Accuse Top Official Of Being Authoritarian Who ‘Significantly Contributed’ To COVID Case Surge)

The Danish death rate of 62.79 per 100,000 people is below the global average of 72.11 and is one of the lowest in Europe. By comparison, that’s more than seven times lower than Europe’s highest, Bulgaria, less than one-third of France and the United Kingdom and less than one-quarter of the United States. Denmark also has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 87% of the population fully vaccinated, according to World Health Organization (WHO) data.