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September 11, 2021

With 80% vaccination rate, Denmark declares “the epidemic is under control” and lifts all local restrictions; lessons for Belize

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Posted: Saturday, September 11, 2021. 5:17 pm CST.

By Hugh O’Brien: For the average resident in Denmark, the COVID-19 epidemic is over for now as on Thursday, September 9th, the country lifted all its remaining local restrictions, returning the country back to a near complete version of pre-pandemic life. According to the local press in Denmark, over 80% of people above the age of 12 have received two shots of the vaccine and as such the government declared that COVID-19 is no longer a “critical threat to society”.

Denmark’s return to pre-pandemic normalcy has been gradual, but as of September 9th, 2021, the digital vaccination pass is no longer required when entering nightclubs, making it the last local restriction to be removed. The digital vaccination pass is evidence that a person has received their two doses of the vaccine.

Time Magazine reports that Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said August 27th that “the epidemic is under control” but warned: “we are not out of the epidemic” and the government will act as needed if necessary.

In mid August, the requirement to use face mask on public transportation was removed and on September 1st, night clubs reopened and limits on public gatherings were removed. In addition the need to show proof of vaccination was no longer required to go inside restaurants, or go to soccer games, fitness centers or the hairdresser.

Strict entry conditions still remain in place for non-nationals at the borders and physical distancing is still recommend for residents. In addition, face mask or shield is still mandatory at airports and people are advised to wear one when testing at the test centers, visiting the doctor or going to the hospital. 

Earlier this week the Danish Minister of Health said that “the vaccines and the great efforts of all of Denmark’s citizens over such a long period are the foundation for why we are going strong,” reports Denmark’s Channel 5 News.

While Denmark’s population is just under 9 million, as of Saturday, September 11th, only 39 or 0.3% of people testing positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized in a serious or critical condition (Source: Worldometer). It is clear that Denmark’s discipline and effectiveness in implementing a successful COVID-19 control and vaccination campaign is a model for many countries in the world.

Meanwhile here in Belize health officials continue to struggle with loud resistance from those who refuse to get vaccinated arguing that the government is trampling on their rights and freedom of choice. The government is also facing harsh social lash backs in its effort to implement tighter controls to encourage vaccinations or to implement programs to reward the vaccinated.

For Belize, is it a matter of putting the need to provide proof of vaccination to access all public spaces, including public buildings, buses, water taxis etc. too rash and too soon? Rather than setting October 1st as a deadline, would a phased approach be more practical, especially as more and more people are getting vaccinated?

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