Denmark has become the first country in the European Union to lift all remaining Covid restrictions, despite a rise in cases caused by a sub-variant of Omicron.
As of Tuesday, all domestic Covid restrictions will come to an end as limits on indoor gatherings are lifted, while the use of facemasks and Covid passes will no longer be mandatory.
While domestic restrictions are lifted, unvaccinated travellers from non-Schengen countries will be required to take a test 24 hours after entry.
Although cases remain high, Dr Camilla Holten-Moller from the Staten Serum Institut (SSI), said Covid should no “longer be considered critical”.
She added: “With Omicron, we simply don’t need any more to flatten the curve as much as we used to.
“I definitely believe that SARS-Cov-2 will continue circulating during the summer period as well, and in winter, we will start to see case counts going up again simply because we have the waning immunity of the vaccine.
“But for now, I think with the Omicron, we’re in a good place — we expect the springtime and summertime will be pretty quiet.”
The lifting of restrictions comes as cases have risen rapidly over the last month due to the BA.2 strain.
On December 21, Denmark reported 12,487 cases but hit a peak of 41,083 new daily cases on January 29.
On September 10, Denmark had tried to lift restrictions but reintroduced some in early November, while museums and hospitality measures were closed before Christmas.
Restrictions are being lifted due to the country’s high vaccine uptake which is more than 80 per cent for two doses.
More than 60 per cent have also received a booster jab.
Despite this, a new study from Denmark has found the new strain is not only more transmissible, but is more effective against those who have been vaccinated.
The study conducted by researchers at the SSI, Copenhagen University, Statistics Denmark and Technical University of Denmark analysed 8,500 Danish households.
Although the study has not been peer-reviewed, it found those who have been exposed to BA.2, have a 39 per cent probability of being infected within seven days in comparison to 29 per cent for the dominant BA.1 strain.
The study’s researchers concluded: “We conclude that Omicron BA.2 is inherently substantially more transmissible than BA.1, and that it also possesses immune-evasive properties that further reduce the protective effect of vaccination against infection.”