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COVID-19 puts economy into ‘significant recession’

The UK economy contracted at the fastest rate since 2008 in March 2020, with gross domestic product (GDP) down 5.8%.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed the economy shrank by 2% in the first three months of 2020.

Lockdown measures were imposed in the UK on 23 March 2020 in a bid to keep a lid on the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that "just a few days of impact from the coronavirus" in March has put the economy into decline.

Sunak also conceded "the UK economy will face a significant recession this year and we are in the middle of that as we speak".

A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, with the UK last experiencing one in Q2 2009.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"The contraction in UK GDP in the first quarter underscores the negative impact that coronavirus had on the economy, even at its earliest stages.

"The quarterly decline was driven by a sharp drop in monthly GDP in March with activity in all sectors contracting as the UK went into lockdown.

"The speed and scale at which coronavirus has hit the UK economy is unprecedented and means that the Q1 decline is likely to be followed by a further, more historically significant, contraction in economic activity in Q2."

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