Covid-19: UK GDP drops record 20% as airlines challenge quarantine
The United Kingdom’s economy shrank by a record 20 per cent in April in the first month of lockdown, new figures said on Friday, as three airlines challenged the Boris Johnson government’s quarantine rules in the high court.Updated: Jun 12, 2020 18:15 IST
The United Kingdom’s economy shrank by a record 20 per cent in April in the first month of lockdown, new figures said on Friday, as three airlines challenged the Boris Johnson government’s quarantine rules in the high court.
Calling the GDP contraction “historic”, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the fall affected virtually all areas of activity. The 20 per cent fall is thrice more than that recorded during the 2008 economic downturn.
Reacting to the figures, chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “In line with many other economies around the world, coronavirus is having a severe impact on our economy”, adding that furlough scheme, grants, loans and tax cuts will help the economy recover quickly.
“We’ve set out our plan to gradually and safely reopen the economy. Next week, more shops on the high street will be able to open again as we start to get our lives a little bit more back to normal,” Sunak added.
Presenting the figures, Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician at ONS, said: “April’s fall in GDP is the biggest the UK has ever seen, more than three times larger than last month and almost 10 times larger than the steepest pre-Covid-19 fall.”
The ONS figure complements recent assessment by OECD that the UK economy would shrink by more than any developed country and by the Bank of England that GDP could contract by 25% in the second quarter and unemployment more than double.
As analysts debated the ONS figures, British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair announced that they had launched legal action against quarantine rules that took effect on Monday. According to them, the rules will end up crippling airlines and tourism industries.
Terming the rules ‘flawed’, they said there was so far no “evidence on how and when proposed ‘air bridges’ between the UK and other countries will be implemented”, adding that there was no consultation and no scientific evidence provided to support the policy.
Under the rules defended by home secretary Priti Patel, most inbound travellers into UK ports need to self-isolate for 14 days, except those from Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Many airlines have shed thousands of jobs in recent days and weeks.