Denmark seeks support to reintroduce face mask use

World

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s government said Wednesday it would seek support in parliament to reintroduce mandates for wearing face masks in public places amid a rise in coronavirus cases, officials said Wednesday.

The new regulation would cover public transportation, hospitals and medical facilities and shops, among others. It would also expand the use of the country’s COVID-19 digital pass.

Denmark, like many other countries, has seen an uptick in infections, with health authorities saying the numbers of cases and hospitalizations have risen faster than expected.

“The delta variant is far more contagious, and that challenges us,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said. “Therefore, we need to use these tools.”

“Although face masks are annoying, we can live with it,” National Board of Health chief Soeren Brostroem said. “It is a pity they have to come back, but they are necessary.”

Earlier this month, Denmark reintroduced a digital COVID-19 pass months after it was ended and restrictions were phased out. The pass now applies to nightclubs, cafes, party buses and indoor restaurants, but also outdoor events where the number of people exceeds 2,000. The government also wants it to be used in public work places, higher education, hairdressers ad tattoo parlors, but that would need approval from lawmakers.

If passed by parliament, the reintroduction of face masks and the extended use of the digital pass would start on Nov. 29. A majority seems to be backing the proposal by the minority Social Democratic government.

Henrik Ullum, head of the Statens Serum Institut — a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus in the Scandinavian country — called the vaccines “our superweapon. We are challenged by declining immunity, therefore we must have a third jab.”

Denmark has said it will offer a booster shot and has started with older people and the vulnerable.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

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