As of today COVID-19 is no longer categorised as a disease presenting a “critical threat to society”. This means that restrictions related to this categorisation expires. The categorisation made it possible to implement restrictions such as the ban on gatherings and the requirements for coronavirus passports and face masks.
On the 27th of August, the government decided not to extend the status of COVID-19 as a disease presenting a “critical threat to society”, after involving the Professional Reference Group, the Epidemic Commission and the health authorities. This is partly due to the high vaccination uptake, and partly due to successful epidemic control.
It is the categorisation of COVID-19 as a disease presenting a “critical threat to society” that has made it possible to introduce measures such as national and local lockdowns, a ban on gatherings, the requirement of a coronavirus passport, face masks, etc.
The remaining requirement for coronavirus passports for nightlife automatically expires today.
Minister for Health Magnus Heunicke says:
It is an important milestone in our epidemic management that today COVID-19 is no longer categorised as a disease presenting a “critical threat to society”. The remaining requirement for coronavirus passports for nightlife expired at the beginning of the day. This could only be done as we have come a long way with the rollout of vaccinations, have firm control over the epidemic, and because the entire Danish population have made an enormous effort to achieve this. The special possibilities for implementing restrictions that we have enabled using the Epidemic Act must not be the new normal in society. We will continue to closely monitor the epidemic, and if there is a serious development that threatens our control of it in Denmark, we are prepared to act quickly again. “A disease presenting a critical threat to society is one that is dangerous to public health, where the spread causes or risks causing serious impact to important societal functions.
In order to be categorised as presenting a “critical threat to society”, a disease must be defined as a disease dangerous to public health by the Danish Health Authority. This means that the Danish Health Authority considers the disease to be particularly contagious, have a high mortality rate, or could cause serious or permanent injuries. COVID-19 continues to be a disease dangerous to public health.
Whether a disease dangerous to public health should be categorised as posing a “critical threat to society” is a political decision made by the government by issuing an executive order. The executive order can apply for up to six months at a time.
The government’s decision to categorise a disease as presenting a “critical threat to society” is subject to parliamentary debate. The question of categorising the disease as such must therefore first be submitted to the Danish Parliament’s Epidemic Committee, together with a recommendation from the Epidemic Commission. If a majority of the Danish Parliament’s Epidemic Committee disagree with the disease being categorised as presenting a “critical threat to society”, the government cannot issue the order.
Read more about the Epidemic Commission here.
Only restrictions that presuppose a disease as being categorised as dangerous to public health can be maintained or established, even though COVID-19 is no longer categorised as posing a “critical threat to society”.
Therefore, things such as restrictions on entry into Denmark and contact tracing will continue. The Danish Patient Safety Authority will also continue to be able to make decisions on local lockdowns and local restrictions on visiting, etc. And municipalities continue to be responsible for making voluntary isolation facilities available for citizens infected with COVID-19 or waiting for test results, and otherwise eligible recipients of the offer.
Read examples of the legal basis for selected restrictions here (in Danish).