Denmark has become the latest European country to take dramatic steps to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. The happiest country in the world is banning international tourists for the next month by closing its border to all non-resident foreigners. From midday on Saturday, March 14, until April 13, only returning Danish citizens and documented residents of Denmark will be allowed into the country. Food, medicine and goods that are vital to industry are the other exceptions.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen announced the border closure at a press conference on Friday night, giving less than 24 hours notice. At the time of the announcement, Denmark had recorded 801 positive cases, of which 23 were hospitalized and four were in intensive care.
PM: Closure will be worth it
Despite the drastic measures, Fredriksen confirmed that she expects the number of confirmed cases to rise and for there to be deaths. “We are in uncharted territory but I’m sure we’ll get through this together,” said Fredriksen. She described the measures as “violent” but said she was convinced they would be worth it, even if the benefits wouldn’t be seen until a later date.
Denmark’s Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup added that it will still be possible to transport food, medicine and goods vital for industry across the border, but that anyone without a good reason will be rejected: “You can only travel to Denmark for a worthy purpose, for example if you live or work here.” He emphasized that a family visit would not be accepted as a valid reason.
The strict measures go a step further than Denmark’s Scandinavian neighbours Norway, which yesterday enforced a 14-day quarantine on all international arrivals from outside the Nordic region. However, Denmark is not alone. Shortly after Fredriksen’s announcement, Poland confirmed a similar border closure to begin on Sunday, March 15.
Danes: Don’t travel, come home
Earlier in the day, Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs changed its official travel guidance, warning Danish citizens against all unnecessary travel anywhere in the world. Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod issued a stark statement: “The message to Danes is clear, simple and serious. You must not travel abroad unless absolutely necessary. If you are already abroad, you should come home as soon as possible.”