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Denmark's high vaccination rate sees COVID pass ended for restaurants

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By Euronews  with AFP
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A view of a phone showing the new coronavirus passport app which can now be downloaded, in Copenhagen, May 28 2021.
A view of a phone showing the new coronavirus passport app which can now be downloaded, in Copenhagen, May 28 2021.   -   Copyright  Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix via AP

Denmark's COVID pass will from today be no longer be mandatory to visit restaurants, sports centres and hairdressers.

The change is down to the country's high vaccination rate.

Danish authorities were the first ones in Europe to introduce a COVID health pass — attesting that the holder has either been vaccinated, recently tested negative or recovered from the disease — which was rolled out in April as a way to slowly reopen the economy from months of lockdown.

From September 10, it will also no longer be necessary to access nightclubs — which reopen on Wednesday — and large events.

This is because the government ruled out extending the status of COVID-19 as a "socially critical disease", the health ministry said in a statement on Friday.

"The epidemic is under control, we have record high vaccination rates. Therefore, on September 10 we can drop some of the special rules we have had to introduce in the fight against COVID-19," health minister Magnus Heunicke said.

"But while we are in a good place right now, we are not out of the epidemic. And the government will not hesitate to act quickly if the pandemic threatens essential functions of our society again," he added.

Earlier this month, the requirement to wear a face mask while on public transport — the last place it was still mandatory — was also dropped. Border controls remain in place.

Flemming Konradsen, a public health expert at the University of Copenhagen, told Euronews that there is widespread public support for the government's decision to lift the last few restrictions.

"I think there's a been a great uptake on immunisation so the Danish population has accepted immunisation to a very large extent. We've had a very significant testing programme and we've also had early lockdowns and periodic lockdowns that in combination have kept the pandemic under somewhat control," he explained.

The country of 5.8 million inhabitants has so far fully vaccinated more than 75% of people aged 12 and over. Vulnerable people can also now get a booster shot.

The government aims for 90% of those over the age of 12 to have received at least one dose by October 1. On Monday, it said 86% had.

Konradsen also stressed that the vaccination rare needs to be nudged up to 90%, warning "else we'll be hit later in the winter."