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Denmark seeks to close public venues, impose curfew on restaurants to curb COVID

Amid virus surge, Danish PM advises citizens to limit social contact over the Christmas holidays, but says goal is to keep large sections of society open as much as possible

Illustrative: A runner dressed as Santa Claus takes part in an annual Christmas run in Middelfart, Denmark, on December 11, 2021. (Soeren Gylling / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP)
Illustrative: A runner dressed as Santa Claus takes part in an annual Christmas run in Middelfart, Denmark, on December 11, 2021. (Soeren Gylling / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s prime minister said Friday that her government is moving to close theaters, cinemas, concert halls, amusement parks, museums and art galleries as part of new restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the proposed measures also would require stores smaller than 2,000 square meters (21,528 square feet) and restaurants to limit their number of customers. Restaurants would have to serve their last meals and alcoholic beverages at 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m.

The Danish government is advising residents to limit social contacts over the Christmas holidays.

“We are not talking about shutting down the whole country as we did last year,” Frederiksen said. “Our goal is still to keep as large sections of society open as possible. We need to curb activity. We all need to limit our social contacts.”

The shutdown order requires parliamentary approval. Lawmakers on the 21-member Epidemic Committee were scheduled to meet Friday afternoon.

Denmark currently requires face masks on public transportation and in shops. The government wants to extend the mask mandate to include educational institutions and places of worship.

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks during a press conference on the COVID-19 situation at the Prime Minister’s Office in Copenhagen, on December 17, 2021. (Olafur Steinar Gestsson / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP)

Like many other European countries, Denmark is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with health authorities saying the number of infections and hospitalizations has risen faster than expected.

The country reported 9,999 new cases on Thursday, and the number was above 11,000 on Friday, the prime minister said.

Last year, Denmark was one of the first European countries to close schools because of the pandemic, and the government sent home all public employees without critical functions. The government also barred gatherings of more than 100 people.

In Finland, the Institute for Health and Welfare on Friday reintroduced a recommendation for people to use face masks in public spaces, including on public transportation. It came into force Friday and applies to everyone 12 and older.

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