How we’re coping with Denmark’s coronavirus lockdown

Foreigners living in Denmark this morning woke up to a new reality of home-working, supermarket stockpiling, and for parents, the unexpected burden of all-day childcare. The Local asked them how they were coping.

How we're coping with Denmark's coronavirus lockdown
How are you going to survive two and a half weeks with your kids at home? Photo: Imagebank Sweden
The foreigners The Local approached on the Expats in Copenhagen Facebook page seemed mostly sanguine in the face of the tough restrictions announced by Denmark's government on Wednesday evening. 
Denmark's government on Thursday announced a guarantee scheme for small-to-medium businesses to help then bridge the two-and-a-half week lockdown. The government will allocate 1bn Danish kroner ($150m) to guarantee up to 70 percent of bank loans to help companies keep solvent.  
But foreigners with small businesses seemed either unaware of the scheme or uncertain as to whether it would apply to them. 
The small business owners
“I am very worried about being able to make enough to keep afloat during this time,” says Susan Churchwell, who runs the Susie Sugar Cakes shop in Slagelse. 
Chå Vestergaard, who runs the children's science education company Little Pink Maker, wondered if the government would provide any support to small businesses. 
“I want to know if the government will provide assistance during this time period and if not then what will happen to the said small business folks who rely upon customer/daily interaction to keep them afloat!” 
“I decided to close my shop because kindergarten is closed, and anyway lingerie is not something what people will think about now,” said Eliza Małecka, who runs the lingerie shop UndressMe
“I don't know what will happen with my business. That's the most scary thing to me, that something what I've been working on for the last 1.5 years can disappear. I really hope that the government will help the businesses.” 
Those with small children 
Those having to work from home at the same time as looking after children worried about how much work they would manage to get done over the coming weeks.  
“These are going to be a very unproductive two weeks,” complained Juliana Nardelli. “I'm a single parent and my 8-year-old is home from today and already driving me crazy! Luckily my manager is in the same situation and he's Finnish (best country for gender equality) so he's fine with that.”
Paul Johnstone, who sells medical equipment to hospitals, said while the crisis was bringing in new business, he was struggling to work with the racket his two children were making. 
“One of them is 8 and autistic, the other is 4. I think there’s a large animal in the house at the moment with the amount of noise they’re making!” 
Vidyadutt S, from India, and his wife have set up a shift system allowing them to alternate work and the task of entertaining their three-and-a-half year old daughter. 
“It will be a bit difficult to keep her entertained but we have decided to do it together, taking turns,” he said. 
Kristian Bara is also having to combine home-working with looking after a one-year-old old, five-year-old and nine-year-old. “We can work from home but both our jobs require concentration,” he said. 
“One word: struggling!!” said Emily Bolton. “Working from home is not ‘working’ with a <2 year old." 
“Three hours in to lockdown and it already feels like it’s going to be a long two-and-a-half weeks with a one year old and two very much still working parents in a one room space,” said Ayla Newhouse. 
“It is probably bigger drama for kids than parents,” pointed out JJ Buka. “We can manage our work in 80 percent of the time, but our son is so bored due to limited attention. We seriously feel bad for him but still try to get the best out of this situation.” 
Those without small children
Expats without small children seemed relatively relaxed about working from home, with many saying they worked from home a lot of the time anyway. 
“It will make little difference to me,” Andy Popp, a Professor at Copenhagen Business School. “We will continue being paid. It's going to be a lot of 'together time' however.”
Others had decided to take their holidays early to make weathering the pandemic easier for their employees. 
Daniela, who works in the travel industry, agreed with her employer to bring her two week holiday forward by a week. 
“So I'm covered for the next two weeks. Then will see. No one really knows what's going to happen,” she said. 
When she was challenged by others on why she was helping her employer out, she said she wanted to make sure they stayed solvent. 
“I work in the tourism branch which is the most hit. I still want to have a job after those two weeks,” she said. “I'm trying to help them and help me to still have a job. If we are not flexible now, what's next?” 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Explained: What are Denmark’s Covid-19 guidelines for the new school year?

The Danish Health Authority has issued new coronavirus guidelines for the start of the new school year on Monday. We explain what has changed and what restrictions remain?

Explained: What are Denmark's Covid-19 guidelines for the new school year?
Pupils at Amager Fælled Skole on their return to the classroom in March this year. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Isn’t there a risk that infections will spike after children return? 

Absolutely. After the new guidelines were released, Søren Brostsrøm, the authority’s director, said that he expected a resurgence in infections after pupils return to school. 

“There’s no doubt that infection will increase in Danish society, partly because we are opening up institutions and workplaces and partly because we are changing our contact patterns when we come home from holiday,” he told the broadcaster TV2

But he said that the high number of vaccinated people meant that higher levels of infection could be tolerated. 

“We are doing this first and foremost because we have a massively high vaccine coverage in Denmark, especially among the elderly and vulnerable, who are the ones at risk of becoming seriously ill.” 

“We are raising the threshold without letting go of the reins, so hopefully we will have a relatively normal school year.” 

What’s the big change? 

The biggest change is that classes will no longer be sent home, or their schools closed, if one of their classmates tests positive for coronavirus.

Pupils will now only be sent home if there are “major outbreaks or other special situations”.

This will be the case, for example, if more than 30 to 40 people at the school are infected, if there is a super-spreading event at the school, or if there are new and particularly worrying coronavirus variants among those infected.

Schools must contact the Danish Agency for Patient Safety for advice before sending a class or school home. 

“We would very much like to help get schooling back to normal as it was before the coronavirus epidemic,” said Andreas Rudkjøbing, a doctor at the authority in a press release announcing the new guidelines. “Therefore, our priority is to ensure that the schools remain open as far as possible.” 

In addition, pupils will no longer be considered to have been “in close contact” with an infected person simply because they are in the same class. They will need to have been less than one metre away for more than 15 minutes. 

What restrictions are still in place? 

On June 11th, Denmark removed most of the restrictions which had been placed on schools since they returned after the first lockdown in April 2020. 

But schools and kindergartens are still encouraged to follow the authority’s general infection prevention recommendations. These are: 
  • Get vaccinated
  • Stay home and get tested if you get symptom
  • Keep distance
  • Ventilate and create draft
  • Wash your hands often or use rubbing alcohol
  • Clean, especially surfaces that many people touch
Students and school staff are also advised to be tested for coronavirus twice a week if they are over the age of 12 and have yet to be fully vaccinated. 
What counts as “contact” with an infected person?
Pupils will count as having been in “close contact” and will need to stay home if they have been less than one metre away from someone who tests positive for more than 15 minutes. 
This is extended to two metres if the pupils have been engaged in activities with strong exhalation such as singing, loud speech or shouting, activities that involve physical exertion, or have been together in enclosed places with poor ventilation. 
In kindergartens, children who share a room will all be considered close contacts. 
Pupils will also need to stay home if someone they live with tests positive. 
Close contacts of infected people should go into self-isolation and get tested on day four and day six after they have been contact. They can leave self-isolation ten days after the onset of symptoms, after two fever-free days, or after a positive test. 
It will be up to the leadership of schools and kindergartens to decide if anyone counts as an “other contact”, who has not been in close contact, but should still get tested, even if vaccinated. “Other contacts” do not need to self-isolate.  
What happens if a pupil or member of staff develops coronavirus symptoms while at school? 
According to the new guidelines, they should be kept separate from other pupils or staff members until they can be picked up and taken home, with everything they touch cleaned afterwards. 
Under Danish law pupils under the age of 15 cannot be tested for coronavirus without parental consent, so if a test is to be caried out by the school, pupils’ parents must be asked first. 
If parents do not want A child to be tested, they child should go into self-isolation until 48 hours after their symptoms cease
What should schools do if one or more pupils or members of staff test positive? 
Schools and kindergartens are advised to contact their local municipal health service for advice, and to then detgermine whether the infected person has been present at the institution during their “infection period”. 
The Danish Agency for Patient Safety may then contact the institution with information on infection tracking and measures to prevent further outbreaks. 
If the infected person has been present, everything they have touched should be cleaned, areas they have been in should be ventilated. 
Pupils and staff should be reminded of basic hygiene recommendations.