Update – Lockdown status in Scandinavia, Europe and the US

The Lifestyle Team at VOCAST is made up of native researchers, with specific knowledge about what is happening across international markets. In the current situation with COVID-19, different countries are taking different precautions. As each country struggles in various ways, it might beneficial to focus on markets that are more open. Here is an update on the lockdown status of our 10 markets.



Lockdown status: Denmark is almost back to normal, however, still with a few restrictions. As a result of the low infection rate and a decreasing number of people hospitalized due to Covid-19, Denmark has been opening up parts of the country since mid-April. Retail stores, restaurants, hairdressers, and cultural institutions such as museums and cinemas opened on May 11th. Currently, gatherings are limited to 50 people. This limit will increase to 100 people by July 8th and 200 people by August 8th – unless the infection rate drastically increases. Following this, fitness centers, swimming pools, and outdoor amusement parks are allowed to open. Public employees living and working in Zealand and around the Copenhagen Area must work from home. Traveling to and from Denmark is still extremely limited. However, from June 15th Denmark will open for tourism and will allow citizens coming from Germany, Iceland, and Norway to enter the country. Likewise, Danish tourists can visit these three countries.

Press status: Denmark’s largest publishing company Egmont has decided to merge the fashion departments of their major fashion magazines. With that in mind, brands should expect a shift in the editorial teams of these major Danish fashion magazines: Euroman, Eurowoman, and ALT for Damerne.

Retail status: All non-essential stores, department stores, and shopping malls are opened again. Distance limitation is mandatory to ensure social distancing between customers, and dispensers with hand sanitizer are placed at all entrances.



Lockdown status: With an increasing curve of infected cases, Swedes have been blocked to travel abroad by many different countries. Even to its Scandinavian neighbors, Denmark and Norway who are welcome to visit the country. Four months after most of the world lock-downed, Sweden is still doing business as usual. However, some restrictions are still put in place: offices are still encouraged to work from home and a limit of 50 people is allowed at social gatherings. This means that weddings, graduation parties, and events are asked to keep this restriction in mind. The increasing curve is taking place in some parts of the country, specifically in Stockholm and the West coast.

Press status: When reaching out to Swedish contacts think about mentioning the good weather. Be friendly and not irritated over the fact that the Swedish government hasn’t put any lockdowns. Don’t mention summer holiday plans, since Swedes won’t be able to travel this summer. Grab ahold of the opportunity that journalists are on their emails and phones much more than before, excited for new collaboration opportunities. Focus on products and messages that can work in a local, home, and outdoor environment with Scandinavian summer in mind.

Retail status: Retail is rolling with early seasonal sales, but it is struggling to keep numbers green and employees are continuously furlough.



Lockdown status: Most Norwegians are back in the office in some capacity after the schools opened gradually after easter. Public gatherings are allowed up to 50 people, helping bars, stores, and other businesses get back on their feet. This number is expected to increase to 200 within a few weeks. In terms of travel, on June 15th, Norway and Denmark are easing the travel restrictions on non-essential travel as an effort to not completely miss out on the tourism-related incomes both countries are so used to rely on.

Press status: Press contacts and influencers have slowly but surely moved back into business as usual. Our Norwegian researcher is currently not having issues reaching them at this time.

Retail status: Even at the most crucial point of the pandemic, large malls were allowed to stay open granted they could maintain a distance between customers/workers. Despite this, most stores saw a decrease in sales of anywhere between 30 – 100%. This has by several industry experts laid the foundation of the most dramatic discount-summer ever as most stores have products in stock they had expected to sell during the crucial springtime months.



Lockdown status: As agreed by the federal and state governments in Germany the contact restrictions will be extended until June 29th. This means that a maximum of ten people from two different households are allowed to meet in public. Hygienic regulations, such as a 1.5 meters distance between people, still apply. In all federal states in Germany, wearing a mask in public transportation as well as stores is still an obligation. In some states, it is additionally necessary to cover mouth and nose at outdoor markets, libraries, or doctor’s offices. On June 3rd, Germany has announced to open the borders for most European countries by June 15th. This affects 27 out of 29 European countries, Spain and Norway are currently not included. There are smaller areas in Germany, where the spread and infection rate of coronavirus has increased. In those regions, local lockdowns have been implemented again.

Press status: More than 10 million people in Germany are currently short-term employed. This has especially impacted the media industry. Many journalists are out of the office or taking vacations. However, all editorial offices are still reachable. For employees at the big German publishing houses, such as Gruner + Jahr, Burda, Condenast, and Axel Springer, it is still mandatory to work from home. Photoshoots and magazine productions in studios are still happening – as long as the current hygienic regulations (wearing a mask, distance of 1.5 meters, washing hands, etc) are followed and implemented.

Retail status: In April, retail sales in Germany decreased by 5%, whereas online sales increased by 11% as consumers looked for alternatives to closed shops. Since May, all shops and retail spaces are open again. Hygienic requirements must be followed, access to the shop must be controlled, queues avoided and a maximum number of people (customers and staff) must be specified in the area. Around 85% of all stores only allow contactless payments and no cash – a completely new development in Germany.



Lockdown status: From June 2nd, the new lockdown stage allows everyone to gradually return to a path of normal life. The French can freely travel again throughout the country, without distance limitations or carrying an authorization form. For trips abroad, traveling within the European Union is still not permitted. Joint decisions will be taken by the countries member of the EU on June 15th. Until then, the borders are not closed but are still subject to movement restrictions, on a case-by-case basis depending on the country and upon return to France. In the Île-de-France (Paris) region, the most impacted by COVID-19, it is not allowed to take public transportation during peak hours (6:30 – 9:30 / 16:00 – 19:00) without an authorization of travel to go to work, or an emergency that justifies it.

Press status: Working from home is still highly encouraged and endorsed by many businesses including big publishing houses. Most journalists are working remotely and only reachable by email, their responding time may vary. Influencers on the other hand are still very responsive.

Retail status: The French government highly recommends online shopping as an alternative. Wearing a mask is mandatory upon entry into some stores and hand sanitizer dispensers are made available at each entrance. Outdoor markets and covered halls are open again – unless the regional prefectures decide otherwise, it is, therefore, important to check each prefectures’ website for more information. Big shopping centers larger than 70.000 m2 such as Le Printemps and Galeries Lafayette were authorized to open again in Paris. Summer sales have been pushed back to July 15th to help smaller stores recover the financial loss they suffered during the lockdown.



Lockdown status: In Italy, domestic travels have been allowed from June 2nd and the borders have been opened for the EU and other European countries. Italians and foreigners are free to enter and travel, and body temperatures are measured by the borders and at airports. Public transport is open and allowed whilst practicing social distance. Masks are mandatory as you step outside your house – at any moment. Public offices are open, with restrictions involving distance, masks, and sanitary supplies. Private offices, however, need to be able to fulfill the same measurements as public ones, to be kept open. This means that the majority of private offices are still closed, but carefully opening up. The general attitude is hopeful to go back to normal life as deaths and infections are drastically decreasing.

Press status: Publishing houses are still closed although some are opening up June 15th. Journalists are not answering their work phones but are still responsive via email. Influencers on the other hand are very responsive.

Retail status: Shops, hairdressers, and bars opened up May 18th. In April, Italian fashion retailers reported a loss of – 91,3% and an increase of 213,8% in online sales (Pambianconews, 2020).


The United Kingdom:

Lockdown status: The UK has been hard hit by Covid-19, with high rates of infection, fatality, and economic loss. Though the four nations of the UK are coming out of lockdown in different ways, all nations are now beginning to open up workplaces, domestic travel restrictions, and social distancing guidelines. From June 8th, all international travelers entering the UK must self-quarantine for 14 days, a measure that can be reinforced by the government.

Retail status: Across the whole of the UK, the majority of high street retailers have been closed since April and major publishing houses such as Hearst and Conde Nast sent their employees to work from home. These restrictions are now subject to change. In England, retail stores will be able to open up from June 15th and many more people will go back to work. However, it was recently announced that from this day, June 15th, Londoners will be obliged to wear face coverings when in public and specifically on public transport. Face coverings have never yet been a mandatory measure of lockdown in the UK.

Press status: It is likely that many workplaces will continue to work from home if they cannot upkeep the safety policies in place, but many in the British lifestyle industry are eggar to start getting back to work if possible. Publishing houses still tend to encourage their employees to work remotely. Press contacts can be reached via email or on the phone. Though there might be some delays, this will likely change as more people are able to work again.


The Netherlands:

Lockdown status: From June 15th most traveling restrictions will be lifted. Tourists from countries with similar conditions as the Netherlands are allowed to enter again. The Dutch are allowed to travel within Europe and to the Dutch’s overseas territories, however, only essential travel is allowed outside of Europe, upon return of such a trip, two weeks of quarantine are mandatory. Bars and restaurants have been reopened since June 1st with max 30 guests inside and max 30 guests outside – this limit will increase to 100 people from July 1st. Public transport is only to be used if there is no other available option and masks are mandatory.

Press status: The government still advises to work from home whenever possible and for workers to avoid public transport. This means that some journalists are responsive and answering their emails while others are less available due to filled mailboxes.

Retail status: Non-essential stores and shopping malls are all open, which was already the case as The Netherlands hasn’t enforced any official lockdown. Social distancing measures are still required to keep safety.



Lockdown status: Everything is allowed to open again except for that which is explicitly prohibited like mass events and gathering with groups larger than ten people. Hotels, bars, and restaurants are allowed to open from June 8th. There is no longer a differentiation between essential and non-essential travel from June 8th as day trips and travel lasting several days are authorized. Belgium will open its borders to the Schengen zone from June 15th. The individual countries of the Schengen zone however can still decide to keep their borders closed to Belgians (eg. UK, Denmark).

Press status: Until June 7th it is advised to work from home if possible, keeping a social distance of 1.5 m is required between colleagues if working remotely is not an option. Most journalists are still working from home, their response time may vary. However, influencers are still very quick to reply.

Retail status: Stores and markets are open again. A study by the Thomas More college and retail federation Comeos discussed on retaildetail.be notes that the pandemic has positively influenced the online shopping behavior of Belgians. Belgian consumers are said to be finally won over by e-commerce, but will also be shopping more in local stores. 30% of Belgians say they will continue shopping online in the future. 44% mentioned they consciously look for online shops of local retailers with a physical store in Belgium. 23% said they were planning on visiting the physical stores they had discovered online. 58% will avoid shopping in malls and 29% percent notes having a smaller shopping budget now. This market research was conducted with more than 3000 Belgians between 30th April and 10th May before the opening of non-essential stores.


The United States:

Lockdown status: The US has been badly affected by Covid-19 and the effect on people on the workforce has been significant: 42 million Americans have claimed unemployment benefits since the outbreak. International travel to the US is banned for non-citizens and residents. Any person who, in the last 14 days, has been in the European Schengen Area, the UK, or the Republic of Ireland for example, cannot travel to the US. The civil unrest in the US since the end of May has been complicated for many businesses. The Black Lives Matter movement has been taking up form as protests across the entire country. This has had effects on employees and businesses in the lifestyle industry: some are actively protesting for justice and change, and some have had to take extra precautions to keep businesses protected. Depending on the area, retailers and publications have been affected in varying ways across the US. Due to the protests on top of the pandemic, it is important to be patient when in contact with individuals in the American market.

Press status: Industry professionals such as the press are reachable through email and sometimes on their personal phones however there can sometimes be delays due to teams working remotely. Different publishing houses have varying rules for their employees however, it is best to assume that employees are working from home.

Retail status: The US has not yet been in full countrywide lockdown, rather different states have imposed different lockdown rules and regulations for people and businesses to follow. The majority of the country is opening up or is relatively open already. This means few domestic travel restrictions, businesses deciding for themselves if their employees will work from home or not, and some retailers open on high streets.

What you should consider: 

Now more than ever, understanding what all these different markets are going through is essential. Decisions have to be taken carefully in order to maintain good business relationships. Brands can re-think the way they communicate by being creative, cost-effective, and sensible during these uncertain times.

COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns had a very negative effect on retail, but have also opened up for more digital solutions for stores across all markets as we are seeing a boom in e-commerce. When it comes to reaching out to the press, rather focus on markets like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and expect a longer response time for journalists in markets like Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as they still have limited access to their working space. Instead, reach out to influencers, as they are still responding really well even in markets that are badly affected like Italy and France.

The United States and The UK are amongst the countries that are the most affected by COVID-19 worldwide. For these two markets especially, it is very important to remain patient and follow new developments in order to communicate sensibly.


Ines is the French Fashion and Design Researcher at VOCAST. After spending most of her life on the beautiful African continent she has chosen Copenhagen as her home-base. A self proclaimed “beauty addict”, she previously worked in the beauty industry and is now exploring her passion for digital marketing, fashion PR and design.



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