UK economy suffers biggest drop since 1709

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s economy suffered its biggest decline in more than 300 years in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic closed shops and restaurants, devastated the travel industry and curtailed manufacturing. Official data released Friday show that the economy shrank 9.9% last year, more than twice the figure for 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis. The drop is the largest since 1709, when a cold spell known as the Great Frost devastated what was then a largely agricultural economy. The data comes as Britain’s economy remains shackled by restrictions designed to combat COVID-19. The Bank of England hopes that as vaccinations roll out, the economy is likely to rebound this year, “like a coiled spring.”