With a successful rollout of the vaccine in their back pocket, the Danes have essentially returned to everyday life before the pandemic. They visited nightclubs and restaurants without showing a “Covid passport”, used public transport without having to wear a mask and met in large numbers without restrictions.
The optimism of mid-September was short-lived.
Large swathes of Europe are fighting to push back outbreaks of the Delta variant amid easing restrictions and stuttering vaccine rollouts in some countries, WHO warns half a million Europeans could die of Covid-19 in a potentially devastating winter.
In the space of a few months, Europe’s Covid-19 fortunes have radically changed. By the end of the summer, many countries had lifted strict restrictions after countries, especially in the western part of the bloc, continued with vaccination programs and cases fell.
Now that other parts of the world are reopening, Europe could again face a winter of further crackdowns.
The Danish government on Monday proposed to reintroduce a digital ‘corona pass’ – used as proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test – to enter bars and restaurants, as the country faces a third wave of infections , Reuters reported.
The measure will be submitted to Parliament for approval. But it comes against the urgent new backdrop of a steady rise in cases – from just over 200 infections a day in mid-September to around 2,300 in recent days.
Denmark is not alone. Austria this week banned unvaccinated people from restaurants and hotels amid an increase in cases. And Iceland has reintroduced masks and social distancing rules following a hike.
Elsewhere, the incidence rate in Germany is breaking records every day. The country recorded its highest seven-day infection rate since the start of the pandemic on Tuesday, with 213.7 cases per 100,000 people, according to the country’s Robert Koch Institute of Infectious Diseases (RKI).
In some states in eastern Germany, such as Saxony and Thuringia, the incident rate has been more than double, to over 400.
And on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron was due to address the nation amid an increase in the number of cases – his first major televised speech since July when he announced mandatory vaccinations for all health workers.
The UK has also been grappling with a stubborn streak of new infections, months after the ‘Freedom Day’ celebrations in late July marked the removal of nearly all Covid-19 restrictions.
Although unlike its European neighbors, the UK has no plans to reinstate restrictions anytime soon, including mandatory masks.
The vaccine rolls on and on
The increase in the number of cases in Denmark comes after a successful deployment of the vaccine, with 88.3% of its adult population fully vaccinated, according to the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC).
Health Minister Magnus Heunicke on Monday attempted to place Denmark’s fortunes in the larger context of Europe’s ongoing battle against Covid-19.
âSeveral European countries are now in the midst of their fourth corona wave,â Heunicke told a televised briefing, Reuters reported. “In Denmark, we are heading towards our third corona wave.”
Now, countries are increasingly focusing their attention on booster injections in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus during the winter months and the prospect of unpopular restrictions during the Christmas period.
With additional reports from Reuters. CNN’s Inke Kappeler contributed to this report.