Denmark, Norway ease restrictions but return to normality still distant

By Anxo Lamela

Copenhagen, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- Denmark and Norway lifted restrictions by allowing some small businesses to open on Monday as activity slowly returns to normal.

Denmark was the first country in the European Union to reopen nurseries and schools on 15 April and Norway, which is not in the bloc, followed suit on Monday by opening nurseries and within a week is expected to open schools for children up until the fourth grade.

The governments of both countries have defended the reopening of schools and said the move had been backed by health authorities thanks to the positive evolution of the coronavirus outbreak in these countries.

Both have experienced a decline in the number of hospital admissions and a low rate of infection.

Danish and Norwegian authorities have imposed a series of rules to ensure children are divided into small groups, spend as much time as possible in open spaces, do not bring toys from home to school as well as militant hygiene systems.

The measures to gradually open kindergartens, only half will open in Oslo on Monday, and schools have not convinced everyone.

Some parents have taken to social media groups to complain. The most popular one has been named My son will not be a guinea pig of Covid-19 and enjoys almost 30,000 members.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Monday: “It is important to open up for the little ones because we know that they are the least ill.

“In schools, more adjustments will have to be made.

“It is also important for the development of children to be with others and receive pedagogical content.”

Norway is intent on reopening schools before the summer holidays, while in Denmark, although there is no official position, the Federation of Municipalities has warned that it is unfeasible due to security demands and the hygiene levels imposed by the authorities.

In Copenhagen the municipal government has signed agreements with libraries, other institutions and the Tivoli amusement park to provide spaces that younger students can use temporarily.

In both countries dentists, psychologists, physical therapists, opticians and podiatrists, among others, can resume work.

Hairdressers, masseurs and tattoo artists will reopen in Denmark on Monday but they will have to wait another week to do so in Norway.

The reopening of small businesses is fraught with restrictions, ranging from eliminating waiting rooms to limiting the number of customers as well as implementing extreme hygiene measures which includes the use of face masks and other protective equipment.

In Norway, the ban on travelling to a second home located in another municipality, which was put in place a month ago to prevent the spread of the virus to the most isolated regions, also came to an end today.

This is a first phase of normalization of economic activity, which could be followed next month by a controlled reopening of bars and restaurants, which in Denmark only operate food delivery services, and in Norway operate with restrictions in some municipalities.

Authorities have warned that this is a slow and gradual normalization and that it can be reversed in the event of a very negative evolution of the rate of infections, although a slight increase is expected.

“We may be forced to impose new restrictions, it may be necessary to go backwards if the virus gets out of control. It all depends on our behavior: we must be together, keeping our distance,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned a few days ago.

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