Danish News Round-Up: Government expects GDP to fall by over 5 percent

The Finance Ministry is forecasting an economic downturn for Denmark in 2020 worse than the financial crisis of 2007-08. GDP is expected to fall by an estimated 5.25 per cent due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the bright side, it sees the possibility of 4 percent GDP growth for 2021 – though there is great uncertainty surrounding the pace of recovery and consumer confidence rebounding in the wake of the outbreak.

It also anticipates the government running a loss in 2020 because of the economic downturn and the relief packages implemented – though it contends that the underlying structures of the economy remain strong.

Government to ban religious marriages of minors
The government is seeking to ban religious marriages of minors and to strengthen penalties against those who force others against their will into marriage. It proposes two years of imprisonment for aggravated cases of the forced marriage of minors. Danish marriage law already prohibits marriage involving minors under the age of 18, but does not account for religious marriages. The foreign minister, Mattias Tesfaye, hopes that criminalising the activity will bring the issue to the fore and help clamp down on abusers.

Danes getting better at sorting trash
Danish EPA statistics have shown a marked improvement in the sorting of waste by households in Denmark in recent years. According to its figures, almost half (48 percent) of household waste is now sorted before it is disposed of compared with 2017 when only 46 percent did so. The practice is considered key in meeting EU and climate change targets as it improves the rate of recycling waste while minimising the amount of recyclable waste needlessly incinerated and contributing to CO2 emissions.

Denmark’s retail on the mend
The latest figures from Danmarks Statistik reveal that retail stores in Denmark recovered somewhat from March to April, with sales rising by 0.4 percent. Dansk Industri says that it is an encouraging sign that retail sales are stabilising and that consumer confidence is holding firm in the face of the Coronavirus Crisis. It is also believed that money for would-be flights, restaurants and hotel accommodation is now being spent instead on retail goods.

Danish researchers first to develop coronavirus test robot
Robotics researchers from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) have developed and carried out successful tests on the world’s first fully automatic robot with the ability to collect coronavirus test samples from humans. The robot, using a 3D printed disposable tool, is able to target and swab with precision the part of the throat where coronavirus thrives. It then inserts the swab into a glass container for collection. The researchers believe the robot can be used to detect many other diseases now and in the future and will save countless, critical work hours for health workers.