UK economy grew less than expected in August, as recovery from the coronavirus pandemic slows

The White Lion pub seen at the Covent Garden. UK Covid-19 cases are now doubling every seven to eight days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering national restrictions for a short period to “short-circuit” the virus.

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LONDON – The U.K. economy grew 2.1% in August on a monthly basis, as the country’s gradual recovery from the coronavirus crisis continued, albeit at a slightly slower pace.

August’s estimated growth in GDP (gross domestic product) was lower than expectations, with economists polled by Reuters expecting a monthly expansion of 4.6%. 

It follows an expansion of 6.4% in July, 9.1% in June and 2.7% in May, following a record 19.5% plunge in April, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Friday’s data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that August GDP remained 9.2% lower than the level seen in February, before the full impact of the pandemic.

GDP grew 8% in the three months to August as lockdown measures began to ease, according to the ONS.

The country’s emergence from lockdown in recent months has paved the way for a recovery in many sectors of the economy, but cases of Covid-19 have been growing exponentially in recent weeks as a second surge appears to be underway.

The British government has imposed a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants across the U.K., with further restrictions expected in the coming weeks.

As of Friday morning, the U.K. has confirmed 564,502 cases and 42,682 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

On September 24, U.K. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak announced a new emergency package of measures to contain unemployment, replacing the country’s furlough scheme which is due to expire this month.