Denmark can open many more businesses without infections rising: SSI

Denmark can open many more businesses without infections rising: SSI
Dijana Kuburovic, owner the Frisør Grønnegade hairdresser in central Copenhagen closing her business down on March 18. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark can afford to reopen a wide range of businesses without risking a spike in coronavirus infections, Denmark's infectious diseases agency SSI has argued in a note prepared for the government.
“The simulations show that if all or half of the adult population continues to keep physical distance at the level before Easter, then we have probably already seen the maximum load on intensive beds,” the agency wrote in the note, which was made public after its contents were leaked. 
 
According to the agency's modelling, if those working in the so-called “liberal professions” start working more or less as normal, there is still a less than 20 percent chance that the number of hospital admissions for coronavirus above the current levels by July. 
 
On the back of the simulations, Morten Østergaard, the leader of the Danish Social Liberal Party, called for Denmark's government to open up more of society. 
 
“If, from an assessment of these liberal professions, they say 27,000 people [could return to work], I think we should as soon as possible come to a political decision to allow the small liberal professions, hairdressers etc, to open again,” he said. 
 
“In addition, I see that there is room for some in education — high school and after-school students and possibly the courts, to be included in this, so we should get moving quickly,” he said. 
 
“We should keep in mind that this is about people's lives and livelihood. These are people who are running businesses and hanging on by their fingernails.” 
 
“Liberale erherv” is a Danish business category which includes land surveyors, estate agents, translators, accountants, consultants, doctors, vets, dentists, psychologists, and hairdressers, among other groups. 
 
The first of the three graphs below shows simulations for what will happen if 'liberale erherv' businesses open while Danes keep to the same level of social distancing as seen before Easter, the second shows what might happen if they open with half the level of social distancing, and the third shows what would happen if they open with normal behaviour. 
 
The black line represents the most likely scenario. 
 
 
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Tuesday announced that her government planned to enter negotiations with other political parties over which parts of Denmark's society and economy to open next. 
 
In its simulations, SSI warned that if Danes stopped practicing social distancing and returned to the behaviour seen before the lockdowns were put in place, there was a better than 30 percent chance that hospital admissions would spike into the thousands by the start of July. 
 
“If, on the other hand, the adult population ceases to keep physical distance, then a sharp increase in the [hospital] load is expected both in general wards and intensive care from mid-June,” the note reads.
 
Kåre Mølbak, director at SSI, on Wednesday refused to describe the calculations as part of “a political process”.
 

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