Denmark abandoned its Covid rules two months ago. Now he has joined other EU countries to think about new restrictions

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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.

Denmark, like many countries in Europe, is now considering reinstating restrictions as the continent battles a wave of Covid-19 cases that have pushed the region back into the epicenter of the pandemic.

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.

Repeat restrictions

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.

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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.

“Several European countries are now in the midst of their fourth corona wave,” Heunicke told a televised briefing, Reuters reported. “In Denmark, we are heading towards our third corona wave.”

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The European Union as a whole has been a world leader in immunization, with 75% of adults fully vaccinated, according to the ECDC. But the deployment has been extremely uneven across the bloc; on the eastern side, Romania and Bulgaria only fully vaccinated 40% and 27% of their adults, respectively.

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.

Germany and Austria offered booster shots for everyone six months after receiving their second injection. France has started administering boosters to those over 65, those with underlying health conditions and their caregivers. The UK, meanwhile, has already administered more than 10 million additional jabs, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted this week.

With additional reports from Reuters. CNN’s Inke Kappeler contributed to this report.


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