Denmark has announced it is lifting the vast majority of domestic COVID-19 restrictions, the first EU country to do so.
While infections in the country have hit a record high, Denmark is reclassifying the disease as no longer a threat to society. Restrictions related to vaccine passports, mask wearing and early closings for bars and restaurants will be lifted on Feb. 1.
Close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases are no longer required to self-isolate, but must take a rapid or PCR test three days after the close contact tested positive.
Border restrictions including tests or quarantine depending on the travelers’ country of origin will remain in place for another month.
Denmark previously lifted all restrictions on Sept. 10, but reintroduced them and added more in November with the arrival of the Omicron wave.
Since the middle of January, the majority of cases in Denmark have been caused by the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which differs from the more common BA.1 sub-lineage responsible for 95% of cases globally.
The Danish Health Minister said this week the BA.2 strain of the virus appears even more contagious than the common Omicron strain, but it is not any more severe.
Eighty per cent of Denmark is fully vaccinated, while 60% have received a booster dose.
Neighbouring Sweden, meanwhile, said restrictions would stay in place for at least another two weeks but suggested they could be lifted after then “if the situation has stabilized.”