Britain and Denmark were among the first countries in Europe where omicron became the dominant variant. Nevertheless, both countries say goodbye to almost all corona measures.
Copenhagen/London – Despite tens of thousands of new infections per day, Denmark and England want to get by almost without corona measures in the future.
In England, the masks fell again on Thursday, in Denmark it should be ready in the coming week. Both governments rely on Omicron to spare most of those infected from severe cases.
From next Tuesday, February 1, Danes will no longer have to wear masks or show proof of vaccination in most places, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in Copenhagen on Wednesday evening. Her government is thus following the instructions of the responsible commission, which recommended that the emergency measures to combat the pandemic – and thus most of the restrictions – be phased out.
High willingness to vaccinate is a “super weapon”
Frederiksen described the step as a milestone. “We say goodbye to restrictions and hello to the life we knew before Corona,” said the head of government. The high willingness to vaccinate has turned out to be a “super weapon”, Frederiksen continued. Omicron rarely causes serious illnesses and the number of hospital admissions is relatively low, said Frederiksen. In Denmark, more than 80 percent of the total population is double vaccinated. Half of the Danes have already received a booster vaccination.
However, the Prime Minister also warned people to be considerate of risk groups such as the elderly, those with weak health and people with chronic diseases. “Everyone must feel safe even in an open Denmark,” said the social democratic politician. For the time being, a test obligation for some travelers as well as non-mandatory recommendations for tests and other precautionary measures should remain.
Record numbers of new infections
From next month, discotheques in Denmark should be able to open normally again and major events should be able to take place unhindered – although the country is currently counting record numbers of new infections every day. 46,747 new corona cases were reported on Wednesday. The government estimates the numbers will continue to rise in February before falling again.
Some experts were skeptical. The mathematician and epidemiologist Viggo Andreasen from the University of Roskilde supports the easing in principle, but would have spoken out in favor of a slight delay. He fears that if the number of infections is even higher, so many people will be sick at the same time that there could be problems for hospitals, nursing homes or schools.
Masks are no longer compulsory in England
In England, where there were relatively large freedoms through the omicron wave, the measures that were still in force are now also falling: From Thursday, in the largest part of Britain, masks will no longer be compulsory in most indoor areas and also those that are only used at major events and in clubs anyway Vaccination or test evidence no longer needs to be checked. The recommendation to work from home is also history. It’s Freedom Day 2.0 – but without a big bang like last year, as the country is completely sucked into the Partygate affair surrounding Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson’s government, which is under great pressure, has phased out the so-called Plan B measures introduced because of the omicron variant after the number of new corona infections had fallen rapidly since the beginning of January. He only pushed the restrictions through parliament in December with the support of the opposition against resistance in his own party.
Rules in London
In the British capital London, masks are still compulsory on trains and buses. Some supermarkets also continue to call on their customers to wear a mask. Otherwise, it will become a private matter again who wants to protect themselves from the virus, where and how.
In the past few days, new infections in the United Kingdom have leveled off at a high level – between 80,000 and 100,000 new infections are reported every day, the seven-day incidence was around 945 (as of January 21). Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decide independently on their corona policy and choose a slightly more cautious path. dpa