In her historic speech announcing Denmark's lockdown on March 11, Frederiksen repeatedly said that the tough measures being imposed had been recommended by 'myndighederne', a word which in Danish means 'the authorities', or 'the agencies'.
“It is therefore the advice of 'the agencies' that we shut down all unnecessary activity in these areas for a period,” she said, as she announced the closure of schools, universities, libraries and religious institutions, and banned gatherings of more than 100 people.
Most Danes would have assumed that by 'the agencies', Frederiksen was referring to the Danish Health Authority and the infectious diseases agency SSI.
But the Jyllands-Posten newspaper on Friday reported that the list of “possible actions” against coronavirus the Danish Health Authority proposed as late March 10, had included few if any of the draconian lockdown measures Frederiksen announced the next day.
On February 28, the paper reported, Søren Brostrøm, the authority's director, even signed a recommendation which specifically excluded measures which interfered with Danes' freedom, except in extreme circumstances.
Kjeld Møller Pedersen, professor of health policy at the University of Southern Denmark, told the newspaper that Frederiksen had “abused health-care advice”.
The government, he said, had “given the impression that it was the advice of the health care authorities to lock down. But that seems to have been untruthful.”
“It's not a pretty process,” Pedersen's colleague Kent Kristensen, associate professor of health law, added. “First Søren Brostrøm makes his statement, and then you strip him of all his muscles.”
Peder Hvelplund, a health policy spokesperson for the Red Green Alliance, told The Local that he didn't expect the new revelations to cause Frederiksen too many problems.
“It is serious because there's a possibility that maybe the Prime Minister said something that was untrue. But it won't threaten her, because everyone acknowledges it was the right thing to do at that time.”
In a written comment to Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's health minister Magnus Heunicke states that “one of the overall recommendations of the 'agencies', was to reduce the number of social contacts.
“It was on the basis of an overall assessment that, on the basis of a precautionary principle, the government made the decision to shut down all unnecessary activity in society.”