Denmark To Shutter Cinemas With Omicron On The Rise

The Danish government has responded to growing numbers of Covid in the country by imposing a fresh set of restrictions, including closing cinemas and theatres.

The measures, which need to be approved by parliament, will also shut entertainment parks and conference centres, and limit large crowds. The gov has also urged people to work from home and is proposing banning the sale of alcohol past 10pm.

Denmark recorded more than 11,000 Covid cases yesterday, its highest number since the pandemic began. Of those, 2,550 were Omicron, suggesting the variant is on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the country, as is happening across Europe.

In more positive news, hospital admissions and death rates are not surging at the same rate as during the previous Delta-propelled wave, backing up science from South Africa this week that suggests Omicron tends to lead to a less deadly variation of the virus, particularly in vaccinated individuals. In total, 76% of Danes are vaccinated, while 27% have also received a booster shot.

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The imposition of fresh restrictions feels like déjà vu to many European citizens, who saw their Christmas plans burned last year by the late implementation of protocols. However, Omicron is spreading rapidly, and governments across Europe are attempting to be proactive in case hospital admissions begin to reach unmanageable peaks.

Soren Brostrom, who heads up Denmark’s health authority, told journalists that the move was precautionary and he hoped that Omicron would prove to be “not that dangerous”, as per Reuters.

Those words will not soothe the pains felt by local exhibitors, however, who are facing another challenging period. The festive season is typically a boom time for cinemas, but distributors are already eyeing the fresh wave of Covid nervously and it would not be a surprise to see more releases push further into 2022, or pivot to streaming. This week, Warner Bros delayed its release of Colin Firth pic Operation Mincemeat in the UK, and further titles with looming datest are expected to follow.

Cinema owners and trade bodies remain staunch in their belief that their venues are not hotbeds for spreading disease and that audiences can visit safely, particularly with safety measures in place including masks.

“This is not a complete closure of the society, as we saw last winter,” Danish Frederiksen Prime Minister said at a news conference today. “Our aim is still to keep as much of society open as possible.”

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