May 7, 2020 / 5:39 PM / 2 months ago

Denmark unlocking restaurants, shopping malls in reopening 2.0 after virus shutdown

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks to the media after the government and the party leaders agreed on the next phase of the reopening of the country after the lockdown, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Prime Minister's residence Marienborg, north of Copenhagen, Denmark May 7, 2020. Ritzau Scanpix/Philip Davali via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish shopping malls, schools for the oldest students and restaurants will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks said the government on Thursday as it enters the second phase of reopening after it has managed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Denmark was among the first countries to restrict public gatherings and close schools, restaurants and bars in a lockdown that quickly helped curb the spread of the virus, meaning it was also one of the first European countries to open again.

“It is thanks to a united and impressive effort that we are in a situation where we are one of the countries that can start a serious reopening of our society once again,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters.

Smaller stores have already reopened but the entire retail sector, including shopping malls, will be allowed to reopen from May 11, and restaurants and cafes one week later on May 18, when kids above fifth grade would also be allowed back to school.

However, restrictions on the number of people and opening hours will be imposed.

“No one should expect the restaurant to look the same, neither will the class room, and neither will the football match, because there won’t be any spectators,” Frederiksen told reporters on Thursday.

So far, 10,083 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Denmark, a country of 5.8 million people, and 514 have died of the disease, according to data from health authorities.

Danish day care centres and primary school classes for ages 6 to 12 were reopened two weeks ago, followed by hairdressers and other small businesses on April 20, as the number of infections and deaths declined.

Denmark is also in dialogue with its neighbouring countries about border controls and travel bans and expects an outcome to be announced by June 1.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Jonathan Oatis

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