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Coronavirus: Denmark lets young children return to school

Children up to the age of 11 are returning to nurseries and schools across Denmark, as the government becomes the first in Europe to relax coronavirus restrictions on education.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen welcomed children as they went back to school in the capital Copenhagen.

Denmark was among the first countries in Europe to impose a lockdown, with schools closed on 12 March.

Infection rates have been low but critics warn the strategy is risky.

“We’re all a bit nervous and we’ll have to ensure that we stick to hygiene rules,” Elisa Rimpler of the BUPL, the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators, told the BBC.

“We have a lot of washing hands during the day. We don’t have masks and we have to keep a good distance from each other so that’s a very difficult task.”

School principal Claus Moeller at Stengaard School in Gladsaxe, Denmark on 14 AprilNurseries, kindergartens and primary schools have been allowed to open their doors after over a month

Denmark is one of a number of countries that have taken steps to relax lockdown measures this week:

  • Austria reopened thousands of smaller shops on Tuesday
  • The Czech government has set out a five-stage timetable
  • Spain has allowed the reopening of non-essential businesses
  • Italian bookshops and clothing stores for youngsters have reopened their doors in some regions
  • European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen is to set out a roadmap on Wednesday for lifting restrictions across the 27-state bloc.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss easing restrictions with the country’s 16 state premiers on Wednesday, with the most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, already planning a return after the Easter holiday break.

  • What has Denmark done?

    Denmark has so far reported 299 deaths and 6,681 positive cases, although many more are thought to be infected.

    It has been widely praised for its swift action in restricting movement before Covid-19 infections were able to spread across the population – leading it to be compared to South Korea.

    Children up to the age of 11 are returning to nurseries and schools across Denmark, as the government becomes the first in Europe to relax coronavirus restrictions on education.

    Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen welcomed children as they went back to school in the capital Copenhagen.

    Denmark was among the first countries in Europe to impose a lockdown, with schools closed on 12 March.

    Infection rates have been low but critics warn the strategy is risky.

    “We’re all a bit nervous and we’ll have to ensure that we stick to hygiene rules,” Elisa Rimpler of the BUPL, the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators, told the BBC.

    “We have a lot of washing hands during the day. We don’t have masks and we have to keep a good distance from each other so that’s a very difficult task.”

    What is happening in Germany?

    Angela Merkel is holdings talks with cabinet ministers on Wednesday before discussing relaxing measures with Germany’s 16 states.

    Chief among the measures being assessed is how to reopen the country’s schools, which is one of the recommendations of the 26 scientists in the Leopoldina Academy of Sciences that advises the government.

    Schools would have to observe hygiene rules as they opened, then shops and restaurants could follow as long as social distancing was observed, the academy said. Everyone would have to wear masks in public, with the strategy based on reducing the rate of infection.

    Germany’s RKI public health institute has said the number of deaths has risen by another 285 in the past 24 hours to 3,254, which is relatively low for a population of 83 million. It now has 127,584 positive cases.

     

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