UK economy grows 2.3pc in April as lockdown eases

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s economy grew by 2.3 per cent in April as the government began to ease strict lockdown measures, official data showed yesterday.

That was the fastest monthly output for United Kingomd (UK) gross domestic product since July last year “as government restrictions affecting economic activity continued to ease”, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

Britain’s economy had contracted 1.5 per cent overall in the first quarter.

April’s growth was driven by the service sector, which grew 3.4 per cent as consumers once again started to visit physical stores, restaurants and as more children returned to onsite lessons, the ONS said.

Output in the production sector however dropped 1.3 per cent during the same month, recording the first fall since January.

And the construction sector contracted two per cent following a strong March.

The UK’s overall output for April remains 3.7 per cent below pre-pandemic levels seen in February last year.

Since May, the government has further eased restrictions, with people now allowed to eat inside restaurants, having initially been only able to sit outside.

Concerns are meanwhile mounting over whether the emergence of the Delta variant of the coronavirus threatens the UK government’s provisional June 21 deadline for further lifting
virus restrictions.

The Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, is now the dominant strain in the UK, according to Public Health England figures.

People sit at the outdoor area outside a cafe in London. PHOTO: XINHUA