May 25, 2020 / 12:33 PM / 3 months ago

Denmark to let cross-border couples meet again

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark eased its border controls with other Nordic countries and Germany on Monday, allowing cross-border couples separated by the coronavirus lockdown to meet again if they can prove they have been in a relationship for at least six months.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Nyhavn district in Copenhagen, Denmark October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/File Photo

The government said that within a couple of days, partners of residents of Denmark living across one of its borders would be asked to produce a written declaration to be granted entry.

“If you say, you are in a relationship and put it in writing, that is enough,” Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup told local broadcaster TV2.

For now, though, couples will need to show shared text messages, private photos or personal information about their partner, Danish police said earlier in the day.

That had sparked an outcry on Monday from lawmakers over privacy, leading to the hasty change being pushed through by the government.

“They can bring along a photo or a love letter,” deputy chief Allan Dalager Clausen told Danish broadcaster DR.

“I realize these are very intimate things, but the decision to let in the partner ultimately rests on the judgment of the individual police officer,” he said.

While good news for separated couples, the move highlights some of the issues lawmakers and authorities around the world face as they gradually reopen their countries’ borders.

Denmark closed its borders for non-citizens on March 14 to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, meaning only people with a clear purpose could enter the country.

Since then, elderly couples have been seen on the Danish-German border drinking coffee on each side of border and holding hands over the barriers to stay in touch with each other.

Some lawmakers took to social media to express their displeasure with the new guidelines, saying it was a violation of the right of privacy.

“I’ve never heard of a country where entry requires the showing of intimate texts or photos from a partner. We finally allowed couples to visit each other, but did not abolish the right of privacy,” Kristian Hegaard of the Social-Liberal Party said on Twitter.

Summer cabin owners and grandparents of Danish citizens will now also be seen as having a creditable purpose to visit Denmark, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have issued a new set of guidelines for business travel in and out of Denmark.

Reporting by Andreas Mortensen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Hugh Lawson

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