Denmark to ease rules for local Covid-19 lockdowns

Denmark to ease rules for local Covid-19 lockdowns
Upper secondary school students in Copenhagen attend lessons from a cafe earlier this week after their school came under a local lockdown. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark is to relax rules for automatic lockdowns in parishes and municipalities, increasing the threshold of Covid-19 incidence before schools and other facilities are forced to close.

Under current rules, parishes, or sogne in Danish, are used to demarcate areas for localised closures if Covid-19 clusters are detected. The parishes are smaller in size than municipalities. 

The rule changes were outlined in a proposal sent by the Ministry of Children and Education to parliament’s epidemic committee, according to broadcaster DR. Parliament approved the proposal on Wednesday afternoon, news wire Ritzau reported.

Under current rules local shutdowns can be triggered in parishes if the infection rate of coronavirus exceeds three key criteria: if more than 20 people are infected over the course of a week, more than 400 people are infected per 100,000 inhabitants, and if the test positivity exceeds 2 percent. 

The last two key figures will be eased to 500 and 2.5 percent. Additionally, schools and facilities such as youth clubs (fritidsinstitutioner) without cases of infection may be allowed to reopen if one of the three key figures is below the threshold. 

Locally closed schools must remain shut until at least one of the three figures has been below the limit for a week, according to current rules.

The model for automatic local lockdowns was put in place earlier in April. It has been the subject of criticism from multiple sources. 

Reports have emerged of gymnasiums and schools that have been shut down even though they have not had cases of infections amongst students, because they are located in areas that have elevated infection numbers.

Under current rules, municipalities are shut down when 200 people are infected per 100,000 inhabitants in one week.

Here, the government proposed that the limit be increased to 250 infections per 100,000 residents before the entire municipality is shut down, DR reported. 

Eight local lockdowns are currently in effect in parishes, according to the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI). No municipalities are closed.

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