Returning Danes cause 6km 'corona queue' at Swedish border
So many Danes were returning from Sweden and Bornholm on Sunday night, that a six-kilometre long traffic jam formed on the bridge linking the two countries, forcing police to call in reinforcements to handle border checks.
The queue, dubbed the 'corona-queue' in the Danish media, came as a result of the long Ascension Day weekend, when many Danes travelled across the bridge to visit their holiday houses in Sweden or on the Danish island of Bornholm (which is easiest to reach by ferry from the city of Ystad in Sweden).
"It's pretty terrible. I have taken this trip many times and have also lived on Bornholm, but I have never experienced anything like this before," Henrik Liniger, a sports commentator for Denmark's state radio DR, said on Sunday night as he sat on the bridge, Öresundsbron in Swedish and Øresundsbron in Danish.
"When we arrived, we were told there was a five-kilometre queue, and it is definitely longer now. I can see lights as far as the eye can see as I look back up the bridge."
According to the Sydsvenskan newspaper, 7,850 cars crossed back over the bridge to Denmark on Sunday, more than double the 3,662 who crossed over the week before.
"As far as I know, this is the first time since Denmark closed its borders that we have had such a long queue," Johan Borglin, head of traffic for the Öresund Bridge, told the newspaper.
Copenhagen Police warned of the queue over Twitter, saying that it aimed to increase border control capacity.
The queue has thrown the difference between the two country's border regimes into sharp relief.
While Danes can enter Sweden without restrictions, Swedish citizens are not allowed to cross into Denmark unless they work there, or have another "worthy reason".
Niels Paarup-Petersen, a member of parliament for Sweden's Centre Party, who grew up in Malmö but has a Danish background, said the queue showed up the absurdity of the Danish position.
"If the Danish government believes that it is so incredibly dangerous for people from Skåne to come to Denmark, then of course they should be equally worried about Danes going to the other side. Diseases do not have nationalities.
"If a Dane comes to the climbing centre in Malmö -- where I've heard it's now at least one fifth Danes, they naturally are sharing the diseases and taking them back with them."
He said that given that with infection rates in Skåne still below the spread in Copenhagen, the border controls were purely political.
"This just goes to show that it's more a question of internal politics than about infection, and when you are limiting the freedom of people without having sufficient reason."
Sydsvenskan interviewed a Swedish border commuter who expressed anger at the lack of reciprocity, accusing the Danes of travelling through Sweden to stock up on cheap goods at Gekås Ullared, a cut-price superstore two hours' drive north of the bridge.
"All the Danish cars are chock-a-block with Ullared bags and everything possible. They have probably been on holiday in Sweden and shopped non-stop," he said.
Politicians in Denmark, Norway, and Finland are currently discussing lifting border controls between the Nordic countries, but many want to exclude Sweden because it has a higher level of coronavirus infection.
On Monday, the list of reasons for which Swedish citizens are allowed to enter Denmark was expanded to include those who have a holiday home in Denmark, a Danish partner, or a business meeting in Denmark.
Der er lang kø for indrejse til Danmark fra Sverige via Øresundsbroen. Nødsporet skal friholdes til redningskøretøjer, og vores patruljemotorcykler vil sikre, at reglerne bliver overholdt. Vi foretager indrejsekontrollen med maks. kapacitet #politidk #coronadk
— Københavns Politi (@KobenhavnPoliti) May 24, 2020
Der er lang kø for indrejse til Danmark fra Sverige via Øresundsbroen. Nødsporet skal friholdes til redningskøretøjer, og vores patruljemotorcykler vil sikre, at reglerne bliver overholdt. Vi foretager indrejsekontrollen med maks. kapacitet #politidk #coronadk— Københavns Politi (@KobenhavnPoliti) May 24, 2020