(Bloomberg) -- Denmark’s government faced calls to reopen the border with the country’s biggest trading partner, Germany, as Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen sought to balance the need to reboot the economy with keeping the population safe from Covid-19.
Speaking ahead of a televised debate of party leaders Thursday, Frederiksen said “I am puzzled by those who say we can just open wide the borders. May I remind them that the virus came over the border.”
The prime minister was responding to criticisms from the opposition, and from some of her own allies, who argue that it is now safe enough to let Germans in due to relatively low infection rates there. Most agree that opening the border with Sweden, which has adopted a laxer approach to the pandemic, isn’t safe.
Germany on Wednesday announced a plan to reopen its borders by June 15, with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer saying he was ready to stop checks with Denmark as early as Friday. European Council President Charles Michel has urged all EU member states to reopen their internal EU borders “as soon as possible.”
Europe’s Borders Creak Open With Germany Ending Controls (2)
Frederiksen has so far chosen to focus on the welfare of Danes and has already made clear that the border with Germany, closed since March 14, isn’t a top priority. Local officials in areas close to their bigger neighbor fear a significant drop in German tourists this summer.
Denmark was one of the first countries in northern Europe to introduce strict restrictions due to the coronavirus and is now one of the first to have started a gradual return to normality. Shops and primary schools re-opened this week, and the prime minister has since hinted that Phase 2 might be accelerated with the opening up of museums, restaurants and bars.
The government plans to make its decision on the borders known by June 1.
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