Denmark in the Time of Corona

It’s Easter, so – much like every other year – all the stores are closed. The only difference this year is that the closures have been extended by a month or so on each side of the holiday. Last year I may have been saying “oh, this feels like everything’s closed for a month”. Now, that’s the case.

In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, like many other countries around the world, Denmark imposed a stay-at-home order. Everything, but essential businesses (grocery stores and pharmacies) has been closed. But Denmark, being Denmark, has done it the Danish way.

Most notably, we never ran out of toilet paper.

Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe to close its borders, its schools, and the entire service industry. It was done in stages, but the first wave of closures occurred on March 13. We’re almost a month into this quarantine and I’ve resorted to cutting my own bangs.

The Danish government worked closely with labor unions to broker deals everyone could be happy with. Most notably, the State offered to pay 75 to 90% of the salaries of workers who could not work due to the shutdown if they remained on their employers’ payroll (i.e. did not have to resort to unemployment).

Denmark’s self-employed sector, although not covered by the initial agreement, has also been compensated for their financial losses.

The Danish government announced that although public gatherings were a no-no and gradually imposed limits on how many people could get together and under what circumstances, getting some fresh air was not only allowed but also encouraged. I’ve been taking more long walks than I ever have before.

We live in the city, and looking outside my window, life seems to be going on pretty much as it always had. Less bike traffic and most of the shops are closed, but again, it kinda looks like Easter. I still see lots of people who are out and about. I see kids crowding the playgrounds. I see teenagers loitering in groups on street corners.

Despite the loosey-goosey stay-at-home order, according to the data, Denmark’s early intervention helped the country to flatten the curve and we’ve seen a moderate number of infections and deaths, with a record number of recoveries. (At the time of this writing, on April 12, we’ve had 6,191 positive COVID-19 tests, 260 deaths, and 2,033 recoveries.)

Not everything has been perfect. We, like most places around the world, are struggling to have enough tests available to the general public. Unless you’re experiencing symptoms, you most likely won’t be tested (at this time). There has been talk for a couple of weeks now of expanding testing, but that still seems to be in the works.

The pharmacies have also run out of hand sanitizer. I made my own using iso alcohol and aloe vera. It’s pretty nasty, but it kills germs.

The Danish healthcare system has been holding steady. There’s a limited supply of PPEs, but so far no significant shortages. The country began production of its own protective equipment.

And now, shortly after Easter, the little kids will be going back to school… As crazy as it sounds, the teachers will try to keep them 2 meters apart. And not picking their noses. How that is even possible remains to be seen.

One comment

  1. I feel lucky to be living in Denmark during these times, I have become a fan of our Prime Minister, the way she handled the situation is commendable. We do not know how things will turn out in coming days, as the country is gradually opening up, all we can do is keep following the guidelines. Surely, this will bring a lot of changes in our behavior when it ends. However, on a positive side, the lockdown has made me more productive than just having Netflix and chill 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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