Denmark to make face masks mandatory at airports

Denmark is to require face masks at Danish airports from June 15, the first time the much-debated measure has been imposed on the general public in the country.

Denmark to make face masks mandatory at airports
A traveller wears a face mask in Copenhagen airport. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
The requirement is part of a new set of infection guidelines for air passengers in Denmark agreed between the aviation trade body Dansk Luftfart, the country's transport and business ministries, and its health and transport agencies. 
“We are very pleased that there is now agreement on simple and pragmatic rules that can create a safe journey for passengers”, Michael Svane, director of Dansk Luftfart, said in a statement
The Danish Health Authority does not currently advise the general public to wear face masks in public, arguing that the benefits are unproven, and that it might encourage people not to follow social distance guidelines. 
“People who wear face masks might take the rules less seriously and, for example, go out if they have symptoms, or be less likely to keep their distance,” it warns. 
In requiring face masks, Denmark is following the guidelines of the European Aviation Safety Agency. 
Svane told Ritzau that the masks meant that “we can avoid having restrictions in cabins”, such as leaving an empty seat between each passenger. 
Denmark's Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht told Ritzau that the new guidelines would make it easier to restart flights in and out of Denmark. 
“It can ensure that aviation can get started nice and smoothly,” he said. “Business travellers in particular need to be able to travel, and to the extent that you travel to airports outside Denmark, it is most appropriate to follow the same guidelines.” 
Svane estimated that only 40 percent of the usual flights in and out of Denmark would be back running by the end of 2020, with flying not returning to normal levels before 2022.  

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Copenhagen Airport begins sending home 1,500 staff as coronavirus hits

Copenhagen Airport is sending home more than half of its employees, 1,500 people, in the coming days, after air traffic ground to a near halt as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Copenhagen Airport begins sending home 1,500 staff as coronavirus hits
Copenhagen Airport chief executive Thomas Woldby said the airport's priority at present was managing the return of overseas Danes. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix
“We’re currently attempting to manage an entirely unusual and grave crisis situation for the airport,”  Copenhagen Airport chief executive Thomas Woldby said in a press release issued on Tuesday morning. 
“This is a serious situation, and we may come to a point where we’ll have to make such big cuts that it’ll permanently damage critical infrastructure.”
Passenger traffic has already fallen by 70 percent in recent days and is expected to drop further in the coming days and weeks as the pandemic deepens, the company said. 
For now, it said, its priority was managing incoming aircraft carrying Danish citizens who have heeded the government's call to return from abroad, and managing the new border restrictions. 
It has decommissioned two of its three runways, and is using the space to offer parking for “a high double digit” of aircraft which airlines have taken out of operation due to the crisis.  
He said that as well as his 1,500 staff, a high proportion of the 22,000 to 23,000 people employed in the airport's shops, restaurants, bars and cafés were also likely to be sent home. 
“Many of these shops and restaurants will close temporarily over the next few days,” the company said, with just a few asked to stay open to offer passengers at the airport a minimum service.  
As well as staff reductions, the company has put on hold most planned investments, cutting spending by up to 700m Danish kroner ($104m). 
Woldby said he welcomed the actions of Denmark's government and unions to strike a deal making it easier for companies to send employees home without dismissing them. 
“We welcome the solution presented by the government and the labour market parties involving wage compensation for employees,” he said. “It enables us to navigate the situation by taking a longer-term view and making a dedicated effort to avoid redundancies, while the crisis persists.”