Monday

6th Apr 2020

Coronavirus

Danish public employees sent home for two weeks

  • Social Democrat prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, announced the new measures after the number of infected people in Denmark took a sharp rise and passed 500 (Photo: Nordisk Råd og Nordisk Ministerråd)

Public schools and universities, childcare, libraries, and cultural institutions in Denmark will be closed for two weeks, starting on Friday (13 March) while all public sector employees will be sent home with full payment.

Only public employees in the health sector, police, and other sensitive functions will continue to work.

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Social Democrat prime minister Mette Frederiksen announced the new measures in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus outbreak after the number of infected people in Denmark took a sharp rise and passed 500 on Wednesday.

Meetings with more than 100 participants will be banned from next week and public transport will be limited to those with seat reservations on trains. There will be no standing capacity on buses and trams.

Some Danes reacted with a wave of hoarding in shops - but also with sharp reactions on social media against this type of behaviour.

The minister in charge of food, Mogens Jensen, in a press conference on Thursday morning assured that there would be no shortage of food and other essentials.

Nobody has yet died from coronavirus in Denmark but the number of beds available in Danish hospitals is relatively low per citizen after a decade of harsh financial cuts in the sector.

'Unconstitutional' extra restrictions

The Danish parliament unanimously adopted, on Thursday (12 March), additional special legislation to limit the spread of the virus, including some measures in breach of the country's constitution.

Authorities will be allowed to force people to undergo health checks by doctors, to stay in hospitals if infected or in isolation at home as well as to accept treatment.

A controversial proposal permitting police to enter private homes without a court order was removed from the text, but a constitutional right to assemble was set aside.

The emergency law was adopted with a so-called 'sunset clause' meaning it expires automatically at the latest by 1 March 2021.

Meanwhile private-sector employees were urged to work from home if possible.

Travel and tourism businesses were already hard hit by the coronavirus crisis as people stop travelling, hotel bookings and conferences are cancelled, and restaurants and cinemas empty.

The Danish finance minister Nicolai Wammen on Thursday announced that banks would be permitted to lend extra cash with a 70-percent state guarantee to companies losing more than 50 percent of their turnover due to the virus.

The initiative is meant to keep otherwise profitable companies alive during the crisis and avoid loss of jobs.

In agreement with the trade unions, companies will be allowed to reduce working hours or send their employees home with the right to benefit from unemployment pay instead of their normal salary.

The European Commission said on Thursday that a Danish €12m aid scheme compensating organisers for damage suffered by cancellation of large events due to the virus would not breach EU state aid rules.

It was the first and only measure notified to the commission in relation to the virus outbreak and it was agreed to within 24 hours.

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