The Danish government has banned the Islamic full-face veil, such as the niqab and burqa, in public spaces, Danish Radio reported.
According to the text of the ban, the "burqa, niqab and balaclavas where only eyes and mouth are visible are examples of clothes that hide the face".
A violation of the ban triggers a fine of DKK 1,000 ($156), which will be increased tenfold in case of repeat offence. Previous demands for a prison term for offenders were effectively dropped.
Earlier, Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen stated that the wearing of the religious garment is "incompatible with the values in Danish society and disrespectful to the community to keep one's face hidden when meeting each other in public spaces."
The ban was hailed by the right-wing Danish People's Party (DF), which made the first proposal to ban the burka in public areas back in 2009.
"Official Denmark distances itself from political Islam, not only with words but also with action. In this way, the parliament makes it clear to everyone that the kind of extremism and brainwash, such as expressed by the burka and the niqab, is unacceptable in Denmark. It is incompatible with Danish culture," DF integration rapporteur Martin Henriksen told Danish Radio.
Henriksen stressed that it took almost a decade to convince the parliamentary majority of the necessity of this step and pledged further efforts against the "Islamization of Denmark."
While the ban has been made possible owing to a cross-party agreement between the "blue" government parties (the Danish People's Party, the Liberals Left and the Conservatives) and the opposition Social Democrats, it was still met with criticism from a number of politicians representing various parties on Demark's political landscape.
Among others, Liberal politician Eva Kjer Hansen called the ban "out of proportion" and a "violation of fundamental rights," but said she had to defy her convictions and vote with the rest of the government after being appointed minister of fisheries.
The ban will come into force on August 1.
The daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten previously reported that only three women regularly wear burqa in Denmark. By contrast, the number of regular niqab wearers has been previously estimated at between 150 and 200, up to 80 of whom are estimated to be ethnic Danish women who converted to Islam.
Full face veils have been previously banned in a number of European nations, including France, Belgium, Latvia, Bulgaria and the Swiss Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, with penalties ranging from $127 to $235.