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Denmark extends mass gatherings ban, Norway relaxes restrictions

The Danish government has banned all events over 1,000-capacity until August 31, while its Scandinavian neighbour Norway has opted to begin easing restrictions on public gatherings.

The Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, announced on Monday that large public crowds would remain banned until September, while the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people, along with other social restrictions, will remain in place until May 10.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a webcast press conference on Tuesday that while restrictions on large sporting and cultural events will remain in place until June 15, schools, universities and technical colleges will begin to open again in three weeks’ time, from April 27.

Some businesses across Norway that have been forced to close due to government regulations, such as hair salons and physiotherapy practices, will be permitted to reopen in the course of April.

Solberg said the changes would be implemented over time in a controlled manner, adding: “Norway has managed to gain control of the virus. The job now is to keep that control.”

The ban on staying in cabins and other leisure properties outside of a person’s home will be lifted from April 20, though the government is still recommending that people avoid leisure travel.

However, the new ban in Denmark means Roskilde Festival, which welcomes almost 150,000 punters each year, has cancelled its 2020 edition.

The 50th edition event was scheduled to take place from June 27 to July 4, and included a line-up of Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and The Strokes.

Organisers of the festival said in a statement: “Though we feared it would happen, we kept the hope high that it wouldn’t end this way. However, the risk of getting infected with the COVID-19 virus is too large when many people are gathered, and that consideration is by far the most important.”

Ticketholders can choose to transfer their tickets to the 2021 edition or request a refund, adding that they will announce details of reimbursements “as soon as the solution is ready. We kindly ask for your understanding regarding this.”

Other Danish festivals that have suffered a cancellation blow include Down the Drain Group’s Northside and Tinderbox festivals, music and art event Heartland and metal festival Copenhell.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Löfven is re-evaluating his laissez-faire approach to the Covid-19 outbreak, which saw the country carry on almost as normal, while neighbouring countries went into lockdown and closed non-essential businesses.

Currently, Sweden has restricted social gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, which has been moved down from 500. However, new restrictive measure could be put in place as the number of cases has increased in the country this week. It could include shutting transport links, closing shops and restaurants, and putting new limits on public gathering.

“We have chosen a strategy of trying to flatten the curve and not get too dramatic a process because then the healthcare system probably will not cope,” Löfven told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper, according to The Guardian. “But it also means that we will have more seriously ill people who need intensive care. We will have significantly more deaths. We will count the dead in thousands.”

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