Denmark Cuts Distancing Rule in Major Step to End Lockdown

(Bloomberg) --

Denmark has cut in half the physical distance its citizens must maintain, as the country takes a key step toward ending two months of restrictions on movement.

The social distancing requirement has been reset to 1 meter, or about 3 feet, from 2 meters, the Danish Health Authority said late on Sunday.

Denmark is now in the second phase of a return to something resembling pre-Covid life, with shops across the country opening on Monday. Restaurants and cafes will follow next week while cinemas, museums and amusement parks will open in June. (Primary schools have been open since April, with older students set to resume in-class tuition next week).

The country of roughly 5.5 million had registered 529 Covid-19 related deaths as of Sunday. Meanwhile, the authorities have dramatically stepped up testing, with 326,560 already screened for the virus. Denmark has stood out for its low death rate, while its hospital system was at no point overwhelmed by the spread of the disease.

In contrast to neighboring Sweden, Denmark enforced some of Europe’s strictest distancing rules in response to the virus, and rushed through purpose-built legislation that included hefty fines and even the option of expelling immigrants who didn’t comply.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has repeatedly pointed to her government’s quick and tough response as key in bringing the virus under control and allowing her country to now roll back the lockdown earlier than many others.

But Denmark’s borders will remain closed, with an update from the government due by June 1 at the latest.

In Sweden, where 3,225 people have died due to Covid-19, the authorities say it’s far too early to tell which strategy will have the best long-term effect. The country’s top epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, told local media on Monday, that the situation in his country is now broadly “stable.”

At the same time he cautioned that “one should be very careful about discussing which strategies work and do not work.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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