Pound Remains Stable as UK Economy Reopens

A limited easing of lockdown restrictions has coincided with a rush to non-essential businesses and a steadying of the pound.

Non-essential shops and services have reopened across England and Wales as lockdown rules are eased across the UK.

Gyms, hairdressers and zoos can now reopen, while pubs and restaurants are able to host customers in outdoor areas. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people taking advantage of the eased restrictions to “behave responsibly” and continue to exercise advised steps to reduce the likelihood of contracting or spreading coronavirus.

Non-essential shops have been closed since 5 January when a third national lockdown was announced in England and similar measures imposed across the devolved nations. This new easing of restrictions coincides with the relaxing of Northern Ireland’s stay-at-home orders and other restrictions in Scotland and Wales.

58% of small businesses predict that their performance will improve this quarter as a result of these slackening restrictions, the highest proportion since the summer of 2015. Conversely, fewer than 24% anticipate a fall in sales.

“We’ve seen a phenomenal increase in bookings since the government confirmed restaurants can open on Monday,” said Patrick Hooykas, managing director of TheFork, formally known as Bookatable. “This week alone we’ve seen an 88% uplift in bookings.”

The pound also opened the week holding steady following heavy losses in the days prior. The GBP/EUR exchange rate fell over 2% over the past week before settling at €1.1514 on Friday.

As of 05:16 UTC on Monday, GBP/EUR was trading -0.03% at €1.1509.

More than 32 million UK residents have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Last Sunday saw a reported seven deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, the lowest daily total since 14 September.

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