By Andy Bruce
LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The proportion of businesses in
Britain open during the second half of December fell sharply in
the second half of December as COVID-19 restrictions tightened
across the country, an official survey showed on Thursday.
The Office for National Statistics said 71% of businesses
were operating, down from 84% in the first half of the month and
the lowest proportion since late June, when Britain's economy
was emerging from its first COVID-19 lockdown.
The proportion of workers furloughed, based on the responses
of businesses, rose to 14% in the latest survey from 11%
The figures are likely to reinforce expectations that the
economy entered a double-dip recession in late 2020.
A third national lockdown at the start of 2021 is likely to
result in a sharper hit. Finance minister Rishi Sunak warned on
Monday that the situation would likely get worse before it gets
better as COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out.
Economic data for November - which included the second
COVID-19 lockdown - are likely to show an almost 6% drop in
output for that month, according to a Reuters poll of
economists. The figures are due on Friday at 0700 GMT.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce
Editing by William Schomberg and Estelle Shirbon)