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Schools begin to reopen in Denmark today while some shops reopen in Italy

Italy allowed bookshops, launderettes, stationers and children’s clothing retailers to re-open.

Classrooms of Stengaard School are prepared for the reopening of the school.
Classrooms of Stengaard School are prepared for the reopening of the school.
Image: PA Images

DENMARK HAS BEGUN to reopen schools after a month-long closure over the novel coronavirus, becoming the first country in Europe to do so.

Nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools were reopening after they were closed on 12 March in an effort to curb the COVID-19 epidemic.

However classes are only resuming in about half of Denmark’s municipalities and in about 35 percent of Copenhagen’s schools, as others have requested more time to adjust to health protocols still in place but all are expected to reopen by 20 April.

In early April, the country’s centre-left government announced that schools would be reopened “on the condition that everyone keeps their distance and washes their hands”. 

Schools are required to ensure that a distance of two metres (about six feet) is maintained between desks in classrooms and recesses must be organised for small groups. 

To adhere to guidelines, many schools favour outdoor classes, presenting a challenge for schools in urban areas.

Some parents have opposed the reopening of schools, citing health concerns. A petition dubbed “my child is not a guinea pig” has garnered some 18,000 signatures.

Henrik Wilhelmsen, principal of a school in the Norrebro district said that they “expect quite a lot of children to be kept at home”.

Middle and high school students, will continue remote classes and are only expected to return to classrooms on 10 May.

As of Tuesday, Denmark had 6,691 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 299 deaths.

The country has banned gatherings of more than 10 people and bars, restaurants, hairdressers, shopping malls and clubs have been closed.

Before Denmark, Austria was the first European country to unveil its roadmap for a return to a “new normal”.

On Tuesday, it allowed small non-food shops to open up, while maintaining social distancing rules and requiring masks to be worn in shops and on public transport.

Austria plans to keep schools, cafes and restaurants closed until at least mid-May.

Other world leaders are agonising over when to lift lockdown measures to jump-start devastated economies but still avoid a second wave of infections. 

Italy, one of the hardest-hit nations, allowed bookshops, launderettes, stationers and children’s clothing retailers to re-open, but many business owners chose to stay shut.

“Open in a desert? Why?  Opening a business where no one walks by is dangerous from every point of view,” said Cristina Di Caio, a bookshop owner in Milan. 

Spain has allowed work to restart in some factories and construction sites.

Meanwhile, the European Union is poised to suggest a coordinated “road map” for member states to exit the lockdown.

Citizens elsewhere, however, braced for several more weeks of restrictions – including in India, whose 1.3 billion people will remain in lockdown until 3 May despite uproar from millions of unsupported poor.

© – AFP 2020

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