Acting Consul General Mikkel Hagen Hess has not been at the Consulate General of Denmark In New York’s helm for very long, but since taking up the role in early March he has certainly had a lot on his hands.
“Almost immediately following my appointment, the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic gained momentum and we knew that it was just a matter of time before it hit New York City,” Mikkel recalls.
“The question then quickly became: how do we mobilize and adapt the Consulate’s resources to the impending challenges,” he adds. “Above all, how do we continue to help Danish citizens here in New York and across the Tri-State area?”
The answer, he says, came immediately and resulted in an extraordinary collaboration with our great colleagues at the UN Mission.
“We immediately established an all hands on deck attitude with both Consular and UN Mission staff working to serve Danish citizens’ needs while working from home,” Mikkel notes.
“We have adopted an unusual solution for an unusual time and everyone on staff — from human rights lawyers to the life science experts — has devoted themself to answering phone calls and mails from Danes. They work together with our very dedicated Consular team who are the backbone of our operation.”
As Denmark In New York and the UN Mission continue to ramp up there efforts for Danish citizens amid the coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak, we asked Acting Consul General Mikkel Hagen Hess what measures Danish citizens should take in this unprecedented crisis and how the Consulate General of Denmark in New York is working to help them.
Denmark In New York: What advice does the Consulate General of Denmark In New York have for Danes in New York City and across the Tri-State area?
Mikkel Hagen Hess: The MFA in Copenhagen is encouraging all Danes traveling abroad to return home as soon as possible. Danish travelers are advised to contact their airline or travel agencies as well as any relevant travel insurance companies regarding impending journeys.
Danish residents of New York City are advised to follow the guidelines put forth by the State of New York and the City of New York. We encourage all Danish citizens to visit the New York State and New York City websites for guidance.
We also urge Danish residents in other states to consult with local authorities for guidelines on how to act amid the coronavirus outbreak in their area.
How is Denmark In New York assisting Danes abroad amid the crisis?
MHH: The entire staff at Denmark In New York has been mobilized to assist Danes in need. Our Consular Affairs team has been reinforced with staff from the Consulate and the UN Mission and we are operating open phone lines 7 days a week.
How is the Consulate General respecting social distancing while working for Denmark?
MHH: The Consulate General of Denmark in New York and the UN Mission have been operating with essential staff only for more than three weeks, preempting NYC’s shutdown. This was done to ensure the safety of our staff and our staff’s ability to continue serving Danish citizens’ needs while working from home.
How many Danes have been helped by Denmark In New York?
MHH: Since the Danish Government issued its travel recommendations, Denmark In New York’s Consular Services team has responded to nearly 800 emails from Danes in the US.
Andrew Zaganelli Giacalone is the Head of Strategic Communications and Press at Denmark In New York.