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Coronavirus

UK online job ads, restaurant bookings rebound as COVID-19 lockdown eases

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English diners rushed back to restaurants this week and online job adverts are back to pre-pandemic levels as Britain’s economy starts to reopen following the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures on Thursday.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The slew of economic indicators published by the Office for National Statistics and the Bank of England also showed that British banks are preparing to increase mortgage lending to households by the most since before the 2008 financial crisis.

Non-essential shops reopened in England for the first time since January on Monday, and restaurants and pubs were allowed to serve customers outside.

While much of Europe is battling with a fresh wave of COVID cases, Britain - which suffered the continent’s highest death toll from the disease - is opening up as earlier lockdown measures and a rapid vaccine roll-out has reduced cases.

Restaurant table bookings on April 12 jumped to 79 percent of their level on the same day in 2019, a year before the pandemic, according to figures sourced from reservations company OpenTable, the ONS said.

Online job adverts recovered to pre-pandemic levels on April 8, as retailers and hospitality companies sought to take on new staff, according to figures produced by recruitment firm Adzuna for the ONS.

“We’re not back to normal yet but these are really promising signs,” Adzuna co-founder Andrew Hunter said.

The Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund expect Britain’s economy to grow rapidly this year as it recovers from a record 10 percent slump in 2020. But it is still likely to take until 2022 before output is back at pre-pandemic levels - a slower recovery than the US or Japan.

Read more:

British variant of COVID-19 not as severe as feared: The Lancet

PM Johnson warns of more COVID-19 deaths, as UK hits vaccine target

UK relaxes rules with pubs open and shopping sprees and haircuts planned