Denmark’s parliament passed an emergency coronavirus law on Thursday giving health authorities powers to force testing, treatment and quarantine with the backing of the police.
The new law remains in force until March 2021.
“I was touched when I saw the whole Parliament standing up and voting for this,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told Danish state broadcaster DR after the law passed.
“It is time to put aside party politics and be together to do what it takes to bring Denmark safely through this situation.”
Jens Elo Rytter, law professor at Copenhagen University, called the measures unlike anything passed in the last 75 years. “It is certainly the most extreme since the Second World War,” he told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “There have been some powerful encroachments in various terror packages. But this goes further.”
According to Trine Maria Ilsøe, DR’s court correspondent, Danish citizens could face prosecution under the new law should they refuse to comply with health authorities’ demands.
“It means that you could be sentenced to a punishment if you, for example, refuse to allow yourself to be tested for coronavirus,” she said.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice will work with health officials to determine how police would enforce their demands.
The law enforces quarantine measures, as well as authorities rights to force people to be vaccinated, though there is no vaccination yet for coronavirus.
Authorities are also empowered to prohibit access to public institutions, supermarkets, and shops. Public and private nursing homes and hospitals also impose restrictions on access to public transport.
The government initially wanted the law to give police the right to enter private homes without court order if there is suspicion of a coronavirus infection. This law was dropped after opposition from parties in the parliament.
Only 95 out of 179 MPs were present for the vote.