Nearly 300,000 primary school pupils in Denmark returned to their classes on Monday after five weeks at home, a first step in relaxing the Nordic country’s strict virus curb measures. This particular start of the new school year however comes with some sanitary caveats, such as no mixing of different classes to limit transmission. Meals must be eaten in the classroom, but masks are not compulsory for students and teachers.
“I’m just looking forward to seeing my friends and my teacher again, and then I can’t wait to get rid of my family,” third-grader Charlie Boll Ostergaard from Copenhagen told the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Denmark’s 5.8 million people have been under a strict partial lockdown regime since Christmas. Non-essential shops, bars and restaurants, cultural venues, colleges, high schools and universities are closed and gatherings of more than five people are banned.
The country has seen a reduction in new cases recently, but many of the current restrictions will remain in place for the time being.
“Older students will be able to return to school when we have complete control of the epidemic,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to a school, without giving any details about the potential timetable. “Although on the surface the figures look good in Denmark, the British mutation is here and will soon be the most dominant,” she added, referring to the more infectious coronavirus strain discovered in the UK in November. Denmark recorded 435 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number to 202,306 since the start of the pandemic, with more than 2,200 deaths.