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Danes emerge from patriotic ‘society first’ lockdown

A rainbow appears in Denmark as the nation emerges from lockdown. (Amy Goodman/YJI)

Ebeltoft, DENMARK – Having been earlier than most to introduce measures to tackle the current pandemic, Denmark is now beginning the slow process of reopening.

Since the beginning of March, Denmark has been under lockdown, meaning schools, restaurants and even the borders have been shut.

Last week it was announced that for the first time since March 13, a full day had passed in Denmark without a single corona-related death. The famous ‘curve’ has been flattened, and it seems that prevention is better than cure (or lack thereof).

Students aged 11 and under have gone back to school. The school day has been shortened, classes made smaller, and other measures. Older age groups, and adult education centers, are due to follow.

Businesses such as coffee shops, restaurants and tattoo parlors have opened, albeit with some restrictions and cautions. It is undeniable that the lockdown has had an effect on the food industry, and many businesses are finding ways to adapt.

In Copenhagen, Noma – once ranked as the best restaurant in the world and a two-star Michelin awardee – has also needed to adapt as the industry moves out of lockdown. Noma has announced that they are reopening as a wine and burger bar. Shockingly, the restaurant notorious for long waiting lists said there will be no reservations.

The events industry on the other hand, is struggling. There will still be strong limits on group sizes. Large events, as well as nightclubs, will be closed.

The hospitality and tourist industry are also likely to be affected when it comes to international customers, as the borders will be staying shut. The list of those eligible to cross the border however, will be extended, allowing those with business or relatives in the country to enter.

For those just entering a strict lockdown, these developments probably sound off. Denmark closed down relatively early, and as a result is now moving towards finding a new, post-corona normal.

Danes seemed to have banded together (at a distance) relatively well. This may be because of the early intervention, or the patriotic and ‘society-first’ focus of Danish culture. The strict curfews and travel restrictions other nations have enforced have not been needed.

Denmark’s governmental parties have agreed to lift any rules that are still left at the start of June. But this is not set in stone. Adding or reintroducing rules are both very much on the table at this stage.

Danes are expected to still follow any remaining rules diligently and to be sensible. As Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has described, it may be like walking on a tightrope.

Some Danes have experienced only minimal changes on their lives, but the effect on the economy and the nation as a whole, is undeniable. Closed businesses and locked borders have – and will continue —  to affect many lives, businesses, and careers.

Unsurprisingly, economic predictions project a fall in the annual Gross Domestic Product, which determines the size and growth of a national economy by measuring all the goods and services made by a country in a year.

What Denmark’s economy will face is uncertain, but as the nation looks towards a post-pandemic future, the preemptive action, low death toll and coffee shops reopening are all things to be thankful for as the world’s economy enters a new chapter.

Amy Goodman is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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