‘Is it too soon?’: Are Danes fearing an early end to coronavirus lockdown?

'Is it too soon?': Are Danes fearing an early end to coronavirus lockdown?
The empty boats of the Sightseeing company 'Stromma Canal Tours Copenhagen' lie at the quay in Copenhagen Harbour during the government lockdown to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 i
Everyone in Denmark wants the lockdown imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus to come to an end, but the prospect of an easing of restrictions and an opening of schools is making many uneasy, writes Emma Firth in Copenhagen.

'Is it too soon? How will social distancing be kept up?,' Emma Firth, Copenhagen, Denmark

This week came the news that everyone in lockdown looks forward to  – Denmark can start to slowly reopen.

And soon – just two days after Easter.

Its success will lie in everyone’s hands – thoroughly and frequently cleaned ones; and by continuing to follow social distancing instructions and sneezing into sleeves.

But if figures remain stable over the weekend, all children in nursery (vuggestue) and kindergarten (børnehave) and those up to the age of 12 at school (0-5 klasse) can return to their classes from Wednesday 15th April.

The aim of this, the Prime Minister said, was for parents to be able to work more effectively from home without caring for small children. 

The government is also talking to some private businesses about how employees can start to return to the workplace. Everything else, including Denmark’s borders, will remain closed until the 10th May, when they’ll be another review. 

Cheers and celebrations from parents in Denmark you might think. Not quite. Less than four weeks after the sudden, decisive and full lockdown, this news came as quite a surprise for many.

Was it too soon? How would social distancing be kept up? What if many children become ill and the infection spreads? A petition soon started, called “Mit barn skal ikke være forsøgskanin for Covid19” –  “My child will not be a Covid19 guinea pig.” It currently has over 35 thousand members.

But details of how this reopening will work are yet to be announced.

Individual municipalities and institutions are currently deciding how and when they can open safely, before informing parents of the new structure. 

The government has the backing of the health authorities in Denmark and have said the country will close down again if numbers worsen.

The empty boats of the Sightseeing company 'Stromma Canal Tours Copenhagen' lie at the quay in Copenhagen Harbour during the government lockdown to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 8, 2020.AFP

But for now, the numbers are stable. Hospital admissions for the coronavirus are decreasing (currently 433), as are those infected patients in intensive care (currently 120). So far there have been 237 reported deaths linked to the coronavirus in Denmark, according to Statens Serum Institute; a figure that is rising but not soaring.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus is 5,635 but this could be much higher due to not testing everyone. 

The government has said it will take three to four weeks to see the effects of the country’s reopening. Weeks that will be closely watched, not just by Denmark but the rest of the world.

This is an excerpt from the latest in our series 'Coronavirus around Europe' in which our journalists describe the situation in the country they are in and look ahead to what might come next.


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