Saskatchewan, Denmark taking similar approaches to slow coronavirus reopening

As Saskatchewan and several other provinces prepare to lift some of the novel coronavirus restrictions imposed on their residents over the last two months, they have at least one country to look to for some recent guidance.

Denmark began on April 15 the gradual, phased reopening of some sectors of its economy.

As pressure builds for Canada to do the same, Danish Ambassador Hanne Fugl Eskjaer told The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson that the decision wasn’t one made lightly, nor was the decision to shut the country down in the first place.

6:13Coronavirus outbreak: Time for Saskatchewan to move forward and begin reopening: Premier Moe

Coronavirus outbreak: Time for Saskatchewan to move forward and begin reopening: Premier Moe

READ MORE: Denmark prepares to ease coronavirus lockdown as deaths stabilize

“We work and we travel everywhere and we are very close to some of the countries that were very hardly hit in the beginning. We could see very quickly we needed to take quick measures to protect our health system,” Eskjaer said of the country’s three-week lockdown.

“We had to act swiftly and we could do it because we are small and in general, our population has a very high degree of trust in our authorities and to each other so we were quite nimble in that sense in the early phases.”

In Denmark’s phased approach, day care centres and schools reopened first on April 15.

A week later, some small businesses like hairdressers and dentists were also allowed to reopen.

The country is now in a waiting period, testing and contact tracing, as it weighs whether to move forward with lifting other restrictions or to wait longer to do so.

3:23Denmark’s pandemic protocol seems to be working

Denmark’s pandemic protocol seems to be working

READ MORE: Saskatchewan to start reopening from the coronavirus pandemic on May 4

It’s similar to the approach Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced last week he plans to take in that province, and one he compared to “turning the dimmer switch up gradually.”

“We’ve flattened the curve here in Saskatchewan, to be honest,” he told Stephenson.

That approach will roll out in five phases, with the first beginning on May 4.

7:50Coronavirus outbreak: Denmark’s gradual reopening following COVID-19 pandemic is working: ambassador

Coronavirus outbreak: Denmark’s gradual reopening following COVID-19 pandemic is working: ambassador

Dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, opticians, podiatry, occupational therapy and chiropractic treatment services will be allowed to reopen, but not elective surgeries or non-essential procedures.

Fishing and boat launching will also be allowed, while golfing will have to wait until May 15.

All public and private gatherings will not be permitted to exceed 10 people.

Moe said each phase will be evaluated carefully with testing and contact tracing to make sure new cases are not surging, calling the overall process “collaborative” between all levels of officials and government.

That plan doesn’t mean things will go back to normal any time soon though.

“The normal we are seeking is what I would call a ‘new normal,’” he said. “It’s going to be very different for the foreseeable future relative to where we were just two months ago.”

1:19Residents react to businesses re-opening in Saskatchewan

Residents react to businesses re-opening in Saskatchewan

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