Denmark has announced a partial lockdown in 38 of 98 its counties, to curb rising coronavirus infection rates in harder-hit areas.
The remaining 60 counties will not be affected by the new restrictions, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a press conference Monday.
“We have hit a serious stage of the epidemic,” Frederiksen said. “Infection rates are too high and this is worrying. We must act now so we can stay in control of the epidemic.”
Denmark has registered 2,024 new cases in the past 24 hours — the first time that number has topped 2,000.
The country’s health minister, Magnus Heunicke, said Denmark was entering a new phase of the epidemic, with the infection rate growing exponentially.
“If we don’t take action now, we could surpass the numbers we saw in the spring at the peak of the epidemic,” he said.
The new restrictions are due to come into effect on Wednesday, December 9.
They will see schools closed to children in the 5th grade and up. Bars and restaurants, theaters, cinemas and museums will also close, as will fitness centres and swimming pools.
The regional and local restrictions will last until January 3, 2021.
In addition, the Danish government says it will extend the existing nationwide restrictions until February 28, 2021.
Officials also urged caution over the Christmas period, noting that a week-long fall holiday in October led to a doubling in infection rates in the country.
On a more positive note, Frederiksen said restrictions implemented since the spring have worked to cut back the virus every time, allowing Danes to maintain a more normal daily life than most other countries.
“We have succeeded in handling this pandemic due to a shared and common effort — despite conditions,” she said. “Please don’t doubt that this will work.
“In Denmark we handled the spring, we handled the summer and we handled the fall. With your help we will handle the winter.”