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Coronavirus: Denmark opens borders to divided lovers

Denmark has opened its borders to couples who were separated from their partners by the coronavirus lockdown.

As of Monday, cross-border couples who reside in the Nordic countries or Germany can now visit Denmark.

Rules currently require people to prove their relationship with photos, text messages and emails.

But the justice minister has announced these regulations will be relaxed in the coming days, so all that is needed is a letter signed by both parties.

“If you say you are a boyfriend and sign [the letter], we will assume it [is true],” Justice minister Nick Hækkerup told broadcaster TV2.

A number of European countries are considering reopening Europe’s internal borders as the outbreak eases.

Germany has proposed allowing travel to all 26 other EU states plus the UK and non-EU countries like Iceland and Norway that are in the border-free Schengen zone from 15 June. The EU has issued guidance on how best to lift restrictions on travel.

But many restrictions remain in place. Several people have told the BBC about their frustration with ongoing rules about partners even as countries ease their lockdown measures.

What are the rules?

Currently, the authorities say people must give the name, address and contact details of their partner in Denmark, as well as phone records, photos and text histories to prove the relationship.

Permanent residents of Finland, Iceland, Germany, Norway and Sweden all qualify, provided their partner is a resident of Denmark.

Police also said this applies only to people in serious relationships, which they defined as of roughly six months – with actual face-to-face meetings and not purely online or via the phone.

Opposition parties, however, criticised the stringent rules, prompting a government rethink. While they are sticking to the guidance about “serious” relationships, partners will simply need to sign a piece of paper declaring this is the case, and will be allowed to enter the country.

“Although the other parties are in opposition, they can sometimes say sensible things – and I always listen to the other parties,” Mr Hækkerup said.

The rules also say anyone from Germany or the Nordic countries who owns a holiday home in Denmark can come to the country.

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