October 25, 2020

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.”

Denmark’s move came as European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen set out a roadmap on Wednesday for a gradual lifting of restrictions across the 27-state bloc, but made clear it was not a signal to act immediately.

She set out key conditions involving a significant decrease in the spread of Covid-19, capacity in the health system, surveillance and monitoring. A donors’ conference will take place online for governments and organisations to pledge money in search of a vaccine, Mrs von der Leyen added.

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