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2 countries with high COVID vaccination rates dropping many or all restrictions

Portugal's move comes a few weeks after Denmark dropped all of its domestic restrictions due to its high vaccination rate.

LISBON, Portugal — Portugal is scrapping many of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions, after becoming the world leader in the vaccination rollout. It comes a few weeks after Denmark dropped all of its domestic restrictions due to its high vaccination rate.

Portugal has fully vaccinated nearly 85% of the population, according to Our World in Data.

The government says starting Oct. 1, it will remove limits on how many people can be in cafes and restaurants, weddings and baptisms, shopping malls, concerts and cinemas. Bars and discos will reopen, although only for vaccinated people and people with negative coronavirus tests.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa said some restrictions need to stay in place. The wearing of face masks will still be mandatory on public transportation, in hospitals and care homes, and shopping malls. People arriving from abroad by air or sea must still show a vaccine certificate or a negative virus test.

“The pandemic isn’t over,” he said. “The risk is still there.”

Denmark became one of the first European Union nations to lift all domestic restrictions on Sept. 10, citing its high vaccination rate. More than 80% of people above the age of 12 have had the two shots, about 74% of the total population. 

A proof of having been vaccinated -- a passport of sorts -- is no longer required when entering night clubs in Denmark, making it the last virus safeguard to fall in the country. But there are still restrictions for people traveling into the country.

The Danish government no longer considers COVID-19 “a socially critical disease.” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said Aug. 27 that “the epidemic is under control” but warned: “we are not out of the epidemic” and the government will act as needed if necessary.

The U.S., still struggling with the delta variant of COVID-19, has 55% of the population fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Jan M. Olsen of the Associated Press contributed to this report.