Britain corona
A small amount of traffic travels on the Blackwall Tunnell Southern Approach on the A102 road south east of London, backdropped by the Canary Wharf financial district, on the morning on March 24, 2020 after Britain's government ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Image Credit: AFP

LONDON - Official figures show that the British economy shrank 2 per cent in the first quarter of the year from the previous three-month period as restrictions on economic activity were ramped up ahead of the coronavirus lockdown towards the end of March.

The decline is the biggest since the global financial crisis in 2008 and is the first indication of the coronavirus' growing impact on the economy ahead of the British lockdown on March 23. In March alone, the British economy shrank by 5.8 per cent.

That monthly fall is an indicator of what has occurred since, with many economists predicting that the second quarter could see British economic output shrink by a quarter, or even more.

Last week, the Bank of England warned that the British economy could fall by around 30 per cent in the first half of the year, before a strong recovery in the second half of the year, leaving it 14 per cent smaller by the end of 2020. Still, even with that predicted second-half recovery, the annual fall would be the biggest since 1706.