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Denmark among first in Europe to introduce COVID pass scheme

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08.04.21 21:00
Denmark launched a COVID-19 "passport" scheme on Tuesday that will help to allow non-essential businesses to reopen to customers.
The "coronapas" is available via a secure application or in paper format to people who have either been fully vaccinated, have tested positive for COVID-19 two to 12 weeks previously or negative over the previous 72 hours.
It currently allows people to enter certain businesses — including hairdressers, beauty salons and driving schools — with the aim to gradually reopen the economy by the end of May.
It will be expanded to include terraces, which are due to reopen on 21 April, and restaurants, museums, theatres and cinemas from 6 May. The country is scheduled to be fully reopened on May 21 when the government estimates it will have vaccinated people over the age of 50.
"I've been waiting for three months to get my hair cut," Rune Højsgaard, a 42-year-old computer scientist, said after brandishing his "coronapas" at the salon.
"I had a test on Saturday, it's valid until this afternoon. I'm used to getting tested once or several times a week so it's not really a problem for me," he added.
Hairdresser Pernille Nielsen is similarly "excited" to be allowed customers after four months of closure.
"We have waited so long for this reopening! Now we are doing everything we can to be able to reopen and if that (the coronapas) is what we have to do, then we are doing it," Nielsen said.
'Distrust in citizens'
Businesses that allow customers in without a valid "coronapas" will be fined €400 and up to €6,000 for repeat offences while clients will be fined €330, the Ministry of Justice has warned.
Some retailers are unhappy about the coercive measure.
"It is an unreasonable responsibility to impose (this control) on a small trader. It would have been much better if, for example, the police made inspection visits, like train inspectors," said Jakob Brandt, head of the SMVdanmark federation of small and medium sized businesses, in an interview with the daily Politiken.
The "Men in Black" — who regularly protest against restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the deadly virus — have called for a protest against the "coronapas" and mass testing programme on Saturday.
"The Corona passport and the mass surveillance and registration of Danes that we put up with testify to a society based on distrust in citizens," the group said in a Facebook post.
Denmark is one of the first countries in Europe to implement such a system and the government said it should remain in place until the entire adult population has had access to the vaccine which should be before the end of the summer.
It cannot however be used for travel although the government hopes it will eventually be used that way. The European Commission is working on the launch of a digital "green certificate" to travel freely in the EU again.

Some 7 per cent of Denmark's 5.8 million inhabitants have been fully vaccinated and a total of 13.3 per cent have received at least one dose.
Vaccinations in the country have slowed down in recent weeks after it suspended the use of the jab developed by AstraZeneca over concerns about rare but serious blood clot events in vaccinated people. The use of the vaccine remains suspended pending further assessments of its side effects.
Source: Euronews