LONDON — What faint hopes remained that Europe was recovering from the economic catastrophe delivered by the pandemic have disappeared as the lethal virus has resumed spreading rapidly across much of the continent.
After sharply expanding in the early part of the summer, Britain’s economy grew far less than anticipated in August — just 2.1 percent compared with July, the government reported on Friday, adding to worries that further weakness lies ahead.
Earlier in the week, France, Europe’s second-largest economy, downgraded its forecast for the pace of expansion for the last three months of the year from an already minimal 1 percent to zero. Over all, the national statistics agency predicted the economy would contract by 9 percent this year.
The diminished expectations are a direct outgrowth of alarm over the revival of the virus. France reported nearly 19,000 new cases on Wednesday — a one-day record, and almost double the number the day before. The surge prompted President Emmanuel Macron to announce new restrictions, including a two-month shutdown of cafes and bars in Paris and surrounding areas.
In Spain, the central bank governor warned this week that the accelerating spread of the virus could force the government to impose restrictions that would produce an economic contraction of as much as 12.6 percent this year.
The European Central Bank’s chief economist cautioned on Tuesday that the 19 countries that share the euro currency might not recover from the disaster until 2022, with those that are dependent on tourism especially vulnerable.
Summer increasingly feels like a long time ago.
In July, with infection rates down, lockdowns lifted and many Europeans indulging in the sacred ritual of the summer holiday, signs of revival appeared abundant. Many European economies expanded strongly as people returned to shops, restaurants and vacation destinations. The most optimistic