Danes will need a “corona pass” until everyone has been offered a vaccine

Evangelicals say the new government plan has “not led to a considerable discussion among church leaders” as religious freedom is well protected in the country.

Joel Forster , Evangelical Focus

COPENHAGEN · 23 APRIL 2021 · 08:30 CET

A street in Copenhagen, Denmark. / Photo: [link]Lass Jensen/link], Unsplash CC0.,
A street in Copenhagen, Denmark. / Photo: [link]Lass Jensen/link], Unsplash CC0.

Denmark is the first country in Europe to fully embrace a Covid-19 passport, known in the Nordic country as ‘coronapas’.

The population has to show it to access restaurants, hairdressers, zoos, cinemas, and sports stadiums.

A digital certificate in a mobile app linked to the national health system confirms the person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has tested negative in the previous 72 hours or was infected at some point in the previous three months.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the initiative would help to gradually open up the economy. Denmark has the lowest figures of infections in Europe and has been able to avoid the feared ‘third wave’ that has led to more restrictions in other parts of the continent.

One fifth of the 5.8 million population has received the vaccine at this point and the government says the whole population will have been offered the vaccine by the end of summer. Authorities are also encouraging citizens to get free Covid-19 tests twice a week.

Staff of businesses will have to check these digital certificates before letting clients in, news agencies have reported. Fines if the new rules are infringed go from 330€ for individuals to up to 6,000€ for businesses.

According to the BBC, a petition against the ‘coronapas’ was signed by 40,000 people, arguing that the measure was unethical and divisive for society. But a survey concluded that two in three Danes support the Covid-19 passport.


The views of evangelical churches

Evangelical Focus asked the Danish Evangelical Alliance (DEA) about how much the ‘coronapas’ could affect the life of churches.

“The introduction of a vaccine pass will probably not have negative consequences for worship places in Denmark”, says Thomas B. Mikkelsen, Chairman of DEA. As for now, “no one has to prove their coronavirus vaccination status before entering a church service”.

Public worship continues with “many but reasonable restrictions”, says Mikkelsen. Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution, “and from my point of view, this has also been the case during the pandemic. As a matter of fact, there have been some exemptions for the churches due to religious freedom”.

The new measures have “not led to a considerable discussion among church leaders”, he adds. “Personally, I am not too worried about these new measures as I only see them as a temporary instrument to move us toward a fully open society”.


An example to be followed by the rest of Europe?

Other European countries are expected to follow the example of Denmark in the next months.

For example, in the United Kingdom, plans to implement a similar internal passport have been heavily criticised by dozens of parliamentarians.

In addition, over one thousand Christian leaders have written a letter to the Prime Minister warning that they “wholly oppose” that access to churches could be limited with a vaccine passport because selecting who can access a church would be “a betrayal to the gospel”.

Meanwhile, the European Union is preparing the “green certificate”, a digital certificate that would allow citizens of the 27 to travel to other countries of the bloc. The plan is expected to be confirmed in June.


Religious freedom in Denmark

Despite the fact that Denmark has not limited the work of Christian communities due to the pandemic, there have been other ways in which faith groups have come “under pressure in recent years”, Thomas B. Mikkelsen told Evangelical Focus.

The Danish parliament discussed two months ago a law that would make the translation of all non-Danish sermons into the national language. The aim, it was said, was to better control the teachings of radical Islamists.

Furthermore, in the coming weeks, “a proposal to ban male circumcision for non-medical reasons will be put on a vote in the Danish parliament”. The law will “probably not become a reality now as a vast majority of the parliament members are against it”. However, it could be passed in the future, the evangelical leader believes, because “most of the Danish population (around 70 percent) supports the prohibition of male circumcision”.

Published in: Evangelical Focus - europe - Danes will need a “corona pass” until everyone has been offered a vaccine

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