Danes could have to keep their distance for 'at least a year'

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danes could have to keep their distance for 'at least a year'
Can social distancing be put in place at art galleries such as Louisiana: Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

People in Denmark should be prepared to follow social distancing guidelines for at least a year, the director of the country's infectious diseases institute Kåre Mølbak has warned.


In an interview with the country's Berlingske newspaper, Mølbak said he doubted Danes would be able to shake hands, hug, or attend concerts or the theatre for months, or possibly even for more than a year.  
"This means that we do not need to get together for a Friday lunch at work, and it also means that we should return to giving one another handshakes, hugs and pecks on the cheek," he said. "However, we can of course meet by other means, for example by Skype or Zoom, as many already are today." 
He said, he could imagine some cultural institutions finding ways to safely let people back, but that cultural events or large numbers of people would be out of the question for months to come. 
"Maybe we can also, for example, find ways of visiting Louisiana [a popular art gallery outside Copenhagen], where we don't let so many people in at once," he suggested.  


In the interview, Mølbak said he doubted a vaccine would be ready in months, as some now hope.
But he conceded that Denmark could not remain in full lockdown for as long as a year.  
"We evidently cannot shot down everything until we have a vaccine, but [any opening] must be under conditions where people can keep their distance. But there are probably some things that cannot be resumed until we have a vaccine." 
Pelle Guldborg Hansen, a behavioural researcher at Roskilde University, said he didn't think it would be possible for Danes to maintain social distancing for so long. 
"We are social beings. To refrain from hugging and meeting and engaging in social activities such as sports, parties and café life, I find it difficult to see that you can stop this," he said. 
He predicted that adherence to social distancing guidelines would start to slip. 
"If the numbers go up significantly, then the Danes will probably think again, he said. "But if the situation carries on as it is now, we probably won't stick to them. There needs to be a change before Danes will be willing to do it in the long run, and even then it will be problematic." 


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